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‘Misuse of Megan’s Law’ Cited in Lawsuit

AUBURN, Calif. (CN) - In "misuse of Megan's Law website" complaint, a registered sex offender claims an apartment complex that knew his status when it hired him wrongfully fired him after a tenant who was being evicted posted his picture and information from the Megan's Law website on the complex grounds.

Shane Hotek sued the apartment complex management company, The CBM Group, in Placer County Court. Hotek says the tenant posted the information about him "apparently in retaliation" for her eviction, but she is not a party to the complaint.

Megan's Law was enacted in Pennsylvania after a 7-year-old girl was raped and killed by a known sex offender who moved in across the street from her. The law, which has been enacted in several states and for federal crimes, requires sex offender registration and community notification.

California uses a website that "provides the public with certain information on the whereabouts of sex offenders so that members of our local communities may protect themselves and their children," according to the California Department of Justice Megan's Law website. Information on the site may be used only "to protect a person at risk," the state says. The site notes that using the information "relating to" employment "is prohibited.'

Hotek had disclosed his sex offender status, beginning with his hiring interview, and management had indicated it was not a problem that would affect his employment, according to his complaint.

When a visitor asked about Hotek's status after she saw his photo on the Megan's Law website, the person who had interviewed him, Robin Ridgway; and an owner of the CBM Group, Michael Burke; and its district manager, Marilyn Bisnett, "all agreed there was no problem with plaintiff being a sex offender and working at the complex," according to the complaint.

When the new district manager, Audie Benson, took over in 2008, "Ms. Ridgway informed Mr. Benson of plaintiff's sex offender status. Mr. Benson expressed no concern about it," according to complaint.

The complaint states: "Less than two weeks before plaintiff's termination, a resident of the apartment complex where plaintiff worked who was in the process of being evicted took plaintiff's photo and other information off of the Megan's Law website and started posting it all over the community, apparently in retaliation for evicting her."

When Hotek called Benson to tell him, "Mr. Benson told plaintiff not to worry about it and asked plaintiff to fax him a copy of what was being posted about him, which plaintiff did," according to the complaint.

But within a week, "Mr. Benson terminated plaintiff's employment and called it a 'business decision' the company had made."

Hotek seeks treble damages and attorney's fees, alleging "improper and evil motive ... caused by defendants' animosity, bias, and hatred of plaintiff."

He is represented by James Peters of Ventura.


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