Former coach contests offender listing
Summit suit challenges placing Claude Brown in most serious category
By Ed Meyer
Beacon Journal staff writer
Published on Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008
The lawyer for former Buchtel High School football coach Claude Brown has filed a civil suit challenging his retroactive placement in the state's most serious sex offender classification, claiming it was unconstitutional.
Brown, 42, was released from the Summit County Jail this month on shock probation after serving nearly eight months in prison for sexual battery in a 2006 incident involving a 17-year-old girl.
As part of the release order, Common Pleas Judge Marvin A. Shapiro classified Brown as a Tier 3 sex offender, the highest level under the new state sex offender law.
It means that Brown must register his address with the county sheriff every 90 days for the rest of his life.
But when Brown pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery April 11, there was a different sex offender law in effect. And his registration requirements then were not nearly as ''onerous'' as they are now, defense lawyer Paul F. Adamson said in his court filing.
The civil suit, filed Friday in Common Pleas Court, asks for a hearing, in addition to a preliminary injunction preventing the sheriff from enforcing the Tier 3 penalties against Brown.
Under terms of Brown's plea agreement in April, he was classified as a sexually oriented offender. As such, he was required to register his address with the sheriff once a year for 10 years.
Brown was notified of the change in the sex-offender laws in mid-December, while he was still in prison, and the resulting reclassification was ''improper and unconstitutional,'' Adamson said in the filing.
Not only was the reclassification a violation of the ex-post-facto provisions of the U.S. Constitution, it also was a violation of the double-jeopardy clauses of the U.S. and Ohio constitutions, Adamson said.
''There is a feeling across the state that this statute is unconstitutional. Now that's not to say that the public does not have the right to know (where a sex offenders lives). It's just to say that we want to do it in conformity with the constitution,'' Adamson said.
The Ohio Public Defender's Office and the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers have reviewed the new law, according to Adamson, and suspect as many as 30,000 sex offenders in the state could be affected.
Summit County court records show Brown's residence is on Mercer Avenue in Akron.
Shapiro originally sentenced him to two years in prison for each of the two counts of sexual battery and ordered the sentences to run simultaneously.
If he would not have raped a teen then he wouldn't have to worry about registering now would he?
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