New Jersey Appellate Division Judges Marie Lihotz, William Nugent, and Carol Higbee ruled that sex offenders subject to Megan’s Law community-notification requirements were not barred from volunteering with church-related programs, specifically those designated for the Youth.
The trio affirmed the trial court’s determination to dismiss a criminal charge against “S.B.,” a convicted Somerset County sex offender, who was a volunteer with his church’s Youth group. In the March 22 published opinion, the panel determined that the legislative intent of the statute was to specifically exclude church groups (N.J.S.A. 2C:7-1 to -23), of which prohibits sex offenders from participating in Youth serving organizations. (See New Jersey State Police’s listing of the NJ Sex Offender statute and mandatory registration here: http://www.nj.gov/njsp/spoff/megans_law.html)
Charged with violation of the criminal statute, a grand jury indicted S.B., originally convicted of sexual assault on a victim under the age of majority (18) – a crime punishable by a three to five-year prison sentence.
S.B., a Youth leader, chaperone, counselor, and mentor for children ages 12 to 17 volunteers at Somerset County’s Eternal Life Christian Center. Responsible for the minors, he oversees their activities at movie-nights, various events, meetings, and day-long camps. Superior Court Judge Marino dismissed the indictment last June, determining that the Youth ministry did not constitute a “Youth serving organization,” causing the Prosecutor’s Office to appeal.
On appeal, the Division affirmed Marino’s standpoint, finding that ‘Youth serving org’ was necessarily limited to a sports team, league, or athletic association, excluding public schools, of which provides educational, recreational, social, charitable, or cultural activities to those under 18 years old.
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See full story here: http://www.njlawjournal.com/id=1202752800803/Court-Sex-Offenders-Can-Volunteer-With-Church-Youth-Groups?cn=20160322&pt=Breaking%20News&src=EMC-Email&et=editorial&bu=New%20Jersey%20Law%20Journal&slreturn=20160222164936