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Family Denies That Minor Is a Sex Offender

OXFORD, Miss. (CN) - A boy's life has been ruined because Mississippi made him register as a sex offender and it was made public, the child's family claims in court.

Connie and Ian McKee sued the Mississippi Department of Public Health and Union County, Miss., in the federal court in Oxford on behalf of their minor nephew, who is identified only as W.G. in court documents.

W.G. allegedly sexually assaulted his sister when he was 13 and was moved from Alabama to Mississippi because he was ruled delinquent in Alabama.

An Alabama juvenile officer told the McKees during the August 2013 move that W.G. needed to be registered as a sex offender in Union County within three days.

The McKees said they questioned whether he needed to be registered as a sex offender considering his young age, but were told by the Union County Sheriff that he did.

"The plaintiffs then asked, even if he had to be registered, whether such registration was supposed to be made public or not, considering the age of the child and Alabama law which said that records of such a young child were not public," the complaint states. "With full knowledge of the minor child's age, not only at that time, but at the time of the original offense and the finding of delinquency, the McKees were told that the child's records would be public for anyone to see and would be posted, along with his photograph and other identifying information, on the Mississippi sex offender website."

Not wanting to break the law, they registered W.G. as a sex offender with both Union County and the state's public health department.

His picture, address and other information were "posted for, literally, the entire world to see" on the sex offender website and it wasn't long before a classmate discovered the information, according to the lawsuit.

"Shortly after beginning school in New Albany, one of W.G.'s classmates did a Google search for the minor child and discovered that he was a registered sex offender," the complaint states. "This information, as would be expected, was immediately known by everyone in the child's school, in the McKees' neighborhood and elsewhere."

Since the exposure, W.G. has been treated as an outcast and has been physically harassed, the McKees say. "This has completely destroyed the child's possibility of a happy life. He will have to confront this situation daily, increasing his current and long term emotional problems as long as he continues to live in the area, and probably anywhere else if schoolmates become aware of where he is," according to the complaint. "He has suffered a huge amount of emotional damages which, regardless of future circumstances, will haunt him and continue for the rest of his life."

W.G.'s sex offender registration was removed from the website last December after the Alabama juvenile officer asked that it be removed.

Mississippi state law clearly states that W.G. should not have been registered as a sex offender in the first place and should not have had his information posted publicly, according to the complaint.

"The McKees have lost time and income having to repeatedly deal with problems their nephew is having at school, which are a result of the torture and ostracism he has been put through because of the county's actions," the lawsuit says.

The McKees and W.G. are represented by Luke Fisher in Oxford.

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