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Monday, April 9, 2018

Ill Supreme Court Upholds Law Banning Sexual Predators and Offenders in Public Parks

On April 5, 2018, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling in People v Pepitone reversing the appellate court’s finding that Section 11-9.4-1(b) of the Criminal Code of 2012 was unconstitutional. That statute says that it is unlawful for a sexual predator or a child sex offender to knowingly be present in any public park or on real property comprising any public park. You may recall that we wrote about the appellate court's ruling here
Marc Pepitone pled guilty to predatory criminal sexual assault of a child in 1998 and was sentenced to six years imprisonment. In 2013, a Bolingbrook police officer patrolling a municipal park observed Pepitone’s vehicle parked across three spaces. The officer ran the vehicle’s plates and discovered the owner was a registered child sex offender. Pepitone, who was walking his dog in the park, claimed he did not know about the ban. He was arrested and charged with child sex offender in a public park.  A jury found the defendant guilty. Pepitone appealed claiming the law violated his due process rights. The appellate court reversed his conviction despite two similar appellate court rulings addressing substantive due process challenges involving public parks and sex offender registration issues. 
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court reversed the appellate court and upheld Pepitone's conviction. The Court found that the legislature has a legitimate interest in protecting patrons of public parks from child sex offenders and sexual predators. The State supported its argument by providing numbers of cases where sexual assaults against minors have occurred in parks. Combined with data reflecting high numbers of recidivism among sex offenders, the Court found a rational relation between protecting the public, especially children, from sex offenders who have been convicted of crimes against minors from being present in public parks.  
Post Authored by Megan Mack, Ancel Glink.


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