MILWAUKEE (CN) — Prosecuted as an adult when he was 17 for having sex with another teenager, a married man with three children has been sleeping in his truck since a Milwaukee suburb forced him out of his house because he’s a sex offender, he says in a constitutional complaint.
Lashun Gray sued the City of Franklin in Federal Court on Tuesday. Franklin, pop. 36,000, is a wealthy suburb southwest of Milwaukee. Its median household income was 36 percent above the statewide median in 2015, and the median home value was 32 percent higher. It is 81 percent white, 8 percent Asian, and about 4.5 percent black and 4.5 percent Latino, according to city-data.com.
A city ordinance regulates where and whether sex offenders may live in Franklin. Gray bought his house in June and lived there with his family until July 21, when the city forced him out. “Gray is banned from living in Franklin and is not allowed to sleep at his own house,” he says in the complaint. After a week in a hotel, unable to bear the expense, he’s been sleeping in his truck as close to his family as he can, within the limits of the law.
Gray was convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a minor for having sex with a teenage girl he met through mutual friends. Gray says that happened two months after he’d turned 17, but he was charged as an adult. He has not committed another offense since then and has been married since 2008, he says in the complaint.
Gray owns and operates a small moving company and lived with his wife, a nurse, a 15-year-old son, 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. The younger son has limited mobility and requires close monitoring and constant medical care, including breathing machines.
The family bought the home in June and moved to Franklin from Milwaukee. They bought a wheelchair-accessible ranch house because of their son's limited mobility, and to live in a better school district.
But on July 21, Franklin police told him he had to move out of his house that night because he was violating Franklin’s law.
“After being ordered to move out of his house, LaShun spent eight nights in a hotel. The expense of an extended stay in the hotel room is a financial burden that the family cannot afford. As a result, since July 29, LaShun has been sleeping in his truck, which he parks near the Milwaukee airport to be outside of the zones restricted by any ordinances that would make it illegal for him to be there. Unless something changes, he will have to keep sleeping outside in his car,” the complaint states.
Gray says he is desperate to return home to his family and that he and his wife are terrified that their youngest will become ill while he is away at night.
He challenges two provisions in the ordinance, including the residency restriction, which makes it illegal for a sex offender to “reside within 2,000” feet of various public and private facilities, including schools, daycare centers, group homes, public parks, parkways, movie theaters, golf courses and libraries.
The second provision is the Original Domicile Provision, under which a sex offender is banned from living in Franklin unless he or she lived in Franklin at the time of the offense.
Gray says these provisions violate the ex post facto clause of the Constitution because they retroactively increase the punishment for people convicted of certain offenses by banishing from Franklin.
He says the Original Domicile restriction also violates the Equal Protection clause, as it pointlessly draws a distinction between people who lived in Franklin at a certain time, and those who lived elsewhere. Both rules interfere with his right to have custodial relationship with his children.
He seeks compensatory damages, an injunction, and declaratory judgment that the challenged provisions of the city code are unconstitutional.
The City of Franklin did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent after business hours Tuesday.
Gray is represented by Adele Nicholas in Chicago.
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