Lawsuit contends NC sex offender law goes too far

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sex offenders are suing the state of North Carolina to revoke the restrictions that keep them away from public places, such as churches and parks.

"To be at a point and time where we actually have ‘conservative Republican Christians’ downtown Raleigh, passing laws that deny people the right to go to church, it is absolutely incomprehensible," Robin Vanderwall, a representative for the national organization that helped file the suit said.

Representatives for the National Association for Rational Sexual Offense Laws believe current sex offender restrictions trample on constitutional rights.

"Once you do a crime such like that, you get those rights taken away," Charlotte resident Joseph Rosenberger said.

Two sex offenders were part of the team that filed the lawsuit. They're calling for the repeal of all restrictions on sex offenders after they have completed their sentences and court supervision.

Sex offenders are asking to be allowed to go anywhere any other citizens can go, meaning they would be able to live wherever they want, according to the lawsuit. They would also be allowed to enter parks and places of worship.

Channel 9 talked with parents like Randy Banner, who is willing to give some convicted criminals a second chance, but he struggles when he thinks about a sex offender sitting near his family in church.

"Oh, boy, that is a tough one, that is a tough one," Banner said.

Advocates for the lawsuit are confident they'll win at least part of their case.

"We've thrown everything we can at the thing, and in some cases, we have strong claims and in other cases we have weaker claims, so we have to see what sticks," Vanderwall said.

Vanderwall said in the future they also want to make the public online sex offender registry available only to law enforcement. He thinks it doesn't help anyone stay safe by seeing where sex offenders live because those offenders don't spend every minute of every day inside their homes.

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