Ohio Optometrist Says Sex-Offender Punishment Doesn’t Fit Crime

(CN) – An Ohio optometrist sued to challenge the revocation of his license and the constitutionality of the state’s sex-offender registration statute, claiming it imposes excessive punishment on misdemeanor offenders.

Douglas Wine filed the federal lawsuit in Toledo on Thursday against Ohio Attorney General Michael DeWine, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation Superintendent Tom Stickrath and Auglaize County Sheriff Allen Solomon.

He is challenging the 15-year sex offender registration requirement for a third-degree misdemeanor conviction.

Noting that the maximum punishment is a $500 fine and 60 days in jail, Wine claims the registration requirement “violates the individual’s right to due process and the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.”

Wine also challenges the revocation of his optometry license by suing the Ohio State Board of Optometry and its members for tortious interference.

“A permanent license revocation is a grossly excessive punishment for a third-degree misdemeanor conviction,” his complaint states.

Wine says he used to make $400,000 per year and that he had to sell his optometry practice for about $200,000 less than its actual worth.

He began practicing optometry in 1987. He was convicted of gross sexual imposition, a fourth-degree felony, in 2011.

Wine “maintains his innocence,” the lawsuit states.

Six months later, the board permanently revoked his license.

The Third District Court of Appeals vacated Wine’s conviction in 2012, but the case was remanded for a finding of guilt on a lesser-included misdemeanor charge. Wine’s sentence was reduced from 15 months to 60 days.

His optometry license revocation was reduced to a suspension, and he presented 16 witnesses at his hearing in 2014 to vouch for his “good moral character and trustworthiness as an optometrist.”

The hearing examiner recommended a suspension, but the optometry board decided in favor of a permanent revocation.

Wine says the board’s decision was based on his classification as a Tier I sex offender.

“The loss of plaintiff’s livelihood and his resulting inability to support his wife and three children is a result grossly disproportionate to the nature of a third-degree misdemeanor conviction,” the lawsuit states.

Attorney Jay Milano of Rocky River, Ohio, is representing Wine in the lawsuit, which asserts claims of due process violations, cruel and unusual punishment and tortious interference.

A spokesperson for the Ohio attorney general’s office said it is reviewing the lawsuit and will respond in court.

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