IL: State Supreme Court weighs constitutionality of lifetime restrictions on child sex offenders

Source: 11/15/23

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court is weighing whether it is constitutional to impose lifetime restrictions on where a person can live after they’ve been convicted of a sex crime involving a minor.

“It’s been 21 years – almost 21 years since my conviction,” Martin Kopf told the court’s seven justices on Wednesday. “I have been totally offense-free. Not even a moving violation. But yet, they still say that I’m dangerous.”

Kopf, now 54, pleaded guilty in 2003 to aggravated criminal sexual abuse for an incident involving a 15-year-old boy. According to a published report of the incident, Kopf, who was a high school basketball coach at the time, was accused of sexually assaulting a member of his team during a sleepover at which he allegedly served the boy alcohol.

According to court records included in briefs filed with the Supreme Court, Kopf served three years of probation and reportedly has had no other criminal convictions since then. Still, because he was convicted of a sex crime involving a minor, Kopf remains subject to an Illinois statute that requires him to register for the rest of his life as a sex offender and prohibits him from ever living in certain areas.

Those residency restrictions cover any place within 500 feet of a “playground, childcare institution, day care center, part day childcare facility, day care home, group day care home, or a facility providing programs or services exclusively directed toward persons under 18 years of age.”

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When will the time come when a court will finally realize that residency rules are actually a form of banishment, which is blatantly unconstitutional as it infringes upon a person’s right to intrastate travel? This was the conclusion the California state courts came to over ten years ago with regard to the 2000-foot residency restriction of the infamous Jessica’s Law.

I do not think it’s good that he was representing himself. He seems like a “good” plaintiff in that it has been 21 years, he’s offense free, etc. and I wish he would have enlisted the help of Adele Nicholas or Mark Weinberg.

The nonsense retort of the Assistant AG: “Although the residency restriction may not protect every single child within the state of Illinois from living or being within 500 feet of the residence of a child sex offender, it does protect some children, And this court (in a previous case) did explain that the legislature need not prevent every single evil in one statute.”

Well then, people who drink alcohol, smoke weed, eat gummies, etc should have their drivers licenses taken away. It will protect thousands of children because there’s a chance one of them will get in a car and drive impaired.

I like our odds. If Chicago 400 and attorney Nicholas gets involved it will surely secure a victory for everyone forced to register in Illinois.

Last edited 6 months ago by AnnoyedinIL

Ah, the same old, tired “compelling interest in protecting children” argument. But I guess I can’t blame them for using it – it’s been rocket proof for the past 20 years or so. Only recently have some courts required the state to demonstrate that their law/rule/regulation actually does anything to further that interest (which they cannot do, more often than not). Hopefully, the Illinois Supreme Court will follow suit in this case.

If I were on that court, I’d require the state to show how many, among the small handful of registrants re-arrested for another actual sex crime – as opposed to registry violations – the role that the accused’s residence played in the new offense. To be honest, I’d like any state to make an affirmative showing of how the violation of any registry rule contributed to the commission of a new sex offense committed by a registrant. But that would be beyond the scope of this case.

When will they learn? When will they stop being hypocrites? If the purpose of sex offender laws is to protect children, then how can children be prosecuted under these laws?

Good effort Martin. I’ll be praying the court rules in your favor. Sounds like Illinois really gave you and your family the bum’s rush.

It’s far past time for courts to place the full burden of proof onto the States to provide real evidence that any & all of these restrictions (distance of home, distance of work, and the many “but for sex offender” laws) actually & effectively prevent child sexual offenses!! 😠
When, where, “risk” level for any re-offender, etc?? 🤷🏻‍♂️

My local newspaper essentially ran the same article, almost verbatim. I am going to write a letter to the editor in an attempt to shed light on the punitive registry. I do have one question, and maybe someone knows the answer… there’s a stat somewhere that if someone is crime free after so many years, they are basically on the same risk of committing a crime again as someone who never has. Does anyone know the exact number of years? Thanks in advance.