CHICAGO — A Chicago federal judge recently ended a lawsuit filed by two homeless sex offenders who claimed Chicago city officials violated their civil rights by not allowing them to comply with sex offender registry laws.
On Feb. 28, U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey ruled Michael Beley and Douglas Montgomery did not have grounds to sue the city of Chicago for violating their constitutional rights of due process, equal protection and freedom of intimate association, as well as rights under the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA). Beley and Montgomery had filed a class action suit on behalf of all homeless sex offenders in the city.
The plaintiffs alleged local law enforcement prevented them and other homeless sex offenders from meeting SORA's reporting requirements, which allegedly exposed them to criminal consequences, according to the lawsuit.
SORA requires convicted sex offenders to provide local law enforcement with identification and documentation that substantiate proof of residence. If an offender is temporarily absent from the registered address for three or more days, the offender must notify law enforcement and provide a travel itinerary.
Failure to register is a Class 3 felony and is punishable by two to five years in prison, at least $500 in fines and a 10-year extension of the offender's registration period.
Individuals without a fixed address are allowed to register if they regularly report to law enforcement. Beley and Montgomery alleged local police prevented them from reporting because they did not have a fixed address, a claim that was echoed by homeless sex offenders Adarryll Kelly, Charles Mowder, James McDonald, Kenneth Williams and Henry Hartage.
Blakey said the legal basis for the plaintiffs' claim revolved around their evidence to show a continuous policy of abuse by city officials.
The court terminated the lawsuit because the plaintiffs demonstrated “occasional lapses of judgment” or “individual misconduct by police officers,” not “systemic problems” or “institutional behavior,” Blakey said in the ruling.
Plaintiffs were represented in the action by attorneys with the firm of Thomas G. Morrissey Ltd., of Chicago.