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Prosecutors: Supreme Court ruling alone does not change sex offender's registration status


CONCORD, New Hampshire — A sex offender convicted in 1987 should not be relieved of a requirement that he register for life based solely on a recent state Supreme Court ruling, New Hampshire prosecutors said.

The state's highest court ruled in February it was unconstitutional to require the offender, who is allowed to proceed as John Doe by court order, to register as a sex offender for life without a hearing because his conviction predates the 1994 creation of the registry. Doe waived such a hearing earlier this month.

Lawyers for Doe have argued that merely being eligible to be removed from the list should pave the way him to get his status changed and the federal housing he desires.

In court documents filed Thursday, prosecutors said having the opportunity to be removed from the sex offender registry is not the same as actually being removed. They are fighting any change in his status without a dangerousness hearing.

Doe said in court documents that he wants to get off the list so he could live in federally subsidized housing that could accommodate his disabilities.

Victim advocates are closely monitoring the case to see what impact it may have on other convicted sex offenders, and say they are working with lawmakers to be sure victims are notified of any bid by sex offenders to have their registration requirement lifted.

Doe's victim — his stepdaughter — learned of his request only because the file from his 1987 case could not be located and prosecutors sought her input this summer. She would not have been routinely notified.

The victim, now 46, doesn't want him named because it would identify her. She traveled to New Hampshire from out-of-state earlier this month to testify at the hearing he waived. She said the man who legally adopted her sexually assaulted her two or three times a week from the time she was 5 until she was 13, when her mother divorced him.

"Doe relinquished his opportunity to have a dangerousness hearing and did so at the eleventh hour," prosecutors said. "If Doe wants to change his status, he must succeed at a hearing in showing that he is no longer a risk to the public and that he no longer poses a risk sufficient to justify continued registration."

No hearing has been scheduled.

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