Class Challenges ‘Crimes Against Nature’ Law

     NEW ORLEANS (CN) – Louisiana unconstitutionally requires some people convicted of charging for oral or anal sex to register as sex offenders who committed “crimes against nature,” but does not require people convicted of simple prostitution to register, four people claim in a federal class action against the state.
     People convicted of performing “unnatural acts” for money before Aug. 15, 2011 must register as sex offenders under Louisiana’s Crimes Against Nature by Solicitation law, but people convicted of simple prostitution, which may include anal, oral or vaginal intercourse, are not required to register, the four Doe plaintiffs say.
     “There are approximately 484 individuals statewide who must register as a sex offender solely because of a CANS [Crimes Against Nature by Solicitation] conviction,” according to the complaint.
     Attorney General James “Buddy” Caldwell is the lead defendant. Also sued are directors of the state prisons, police, probation and parole office, and of the Office of Motor Vehicles.
     The plaintiffs claim that they and their class are identical to the prevailing plaintiffs in Doe v. Jindal. In that case, in the same court, the Doe plaintiffs argued that “there was no legislative purpose in requiring registration as a sex offender for persons convicted under CANS as opposed to the identical criminal provisions of Louisiana’s Prostitution statute under which no registration is required.”
     The court found in that case, against Gov. Bobby Jindal, that “the State has created two classifications of similarly (in fact, identical) situated individuals who were treated differently,” and that “there is no legitimating rationale in the record to justify targeting only those convicted of Crime Against Nature by Solicitation for mandatory sex offender registration.”
     Legislation enacted on Aug. 15, 2010 did away with the sex offender registration requirement for first-time CANS offenders. But the legislation was not retroactive, and repeat CANS offenders were still required to register.
     One year later, new legislation changed the law again, so that CANS offenders were treated the same as those convicted under the prostitution statute. But again, the amendments were not retroactive.
     All of the plaintiffs in the new case must register as sex offenders because of CANS convictions before the Aug. 15, 2011 amendment. They claim that they have been denied employment and housing because of their registration status.
     They ask the court to apply the Doe v. Jindal ruling to the entire class and expunge all records regarding the sex offender registry.
     Their lead counsel is William Quigley, with the Loyola Law Clinic.

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