SOMERSET COUNTY — Call it bullying or call it horseplay. Either way, a state appellate court panel says roughhousing with a sexual connotation by a pair of 14-year-old Somerset County boys was a crime that requires them to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
**WHEN DO WE TELL THESE HYPOCRITES THEY HAVE EXCEEDED ANY FORM OF REASONABLE SANITY??***
Judge Victor Ashrafi, pictured in this file photo from 2004, is one of the three New Jersey appeals court judges who ruled that two young teenagers must register as sex offenders under Megan's Law for an incident the teens described as "horseplay."
The appeal did not challenge the application of Megan’s Law to the 14-year-old youths since courts have already ruled the law applies to offenders as young as 13, but on the ground that the offense was not severe enough to carry a lifelong stigma.
NJ TEENS FORCED TO REGISTER AS SEX OFFENDERS AFTER 'HORSEPLAY'
SOME VIEW RULING AS 'HARSH' PUNISHMENT
Ronald Chen, the state’s former public advocate who is vice dean at Rutgers-Newark Law School, said in an interview that the ruling highlights the "collateral" consequences of Megan’s Law.
He said that although the boys’ convictions for criminal sexual contact met the law’s requirements, "I don’t think lifelong registration is a proportionate response.’’
Chen said that is something the Legislature has to take up.
"It is a very harsh result and maybe the Legislature should take a look at it,’’ he said. "But for now, it is what it is.’’
The panel, which also included Judges Victor Ashrafi and William Nugent, noted its constraints under the law.
"Although we are not unsympathetic to the arguments criticizing the application of the lifelong registration requirements in (Megan’s Law) to 14-year-old offenders, we are bound to uphold such application because that outcome is mandated by the Legislature,’’ the court said in its ruling.
The Somerset County prosecutor, Geoffrey Soriano, and Robert Wilson, a lawyer for the teenager who was tried, both declined to comment.
For the boys, who are now 16, there is still a possibility of having their convictions overturned. The appellate panel sent their cases back to Superior Court, where one youth will have a hearing on whether he understood the ramifications of pleading guilty, and the other will get to argue that his trial attorney was ineffective.
COURTESY OF CFCAMERICA.ORG http://cfcamerica.org/branded/3152-17-year-old-boy-branded-for-life-for-sex-with-his-15-year-old-girl-friend