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Oklahoma City lawsuit challenges constitutionality of sex offenders sharing a residence

The city of Oklahoma City and local law enforcement were named in a suit filed Tuesday afternoon claiming the unconstitutionality of a law prohibiting sex offenders from living together.
by Matt Dinger Modified: October 8, 2013 at 10:14 pm •  Published: October 9, 2013

A convicted molester and a ministry are suing officials over a law making it a felony for sex offenders to live together.

Hand Up Ministries and convicted sex offender Bernard Richard Lagrow are seeking to overturn a provision of the state's sex offender registration act.

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel and Attorney General Scott Pruitt are named as defendants.

“This specific issue has been going on now for almost two years. This law has forced people to live in tents. It's forced them to live in cars. It's put them in a position where they're transient. Nobody knows where they're living,” said attorney David Slane, who filed the suit Tuesday in Oklahoma County District Court.

“It's about doing the right thing. It's about human dignity, in my opinion. People have a right to live in a home with who they want,” he said.

“If there was two murderers, we wouldn't say they couldn't live together. Two robbers, we wouldn't say that. Two drug dealers. The only person that they say could not live together would be a sex offender, and that makes no sense.”

The complaint does not challenge other provisions of the act, including restrictions on living within 2,000 feet of a school, park or day care.

“Keep in mind, before this law was passed, these people were living in Hand Up Ministries as roommates and there was no incidents. There were no crimes. There were no problems there,” Slane said.

Slane said the agencies and law officers involved were not being targeted directly, but were being sued because they had taken an oath to enforce local laws.

by Matt Dinger
Court Reporter
Matt Dinger was born and raised in Oklahoma City. He has worked in OPUBCO's News and Information Center since 2006, and has been assigned to the breaking news desk since its formation in fall 2008. He specializes in crime and police reporting.
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