Media Center

Van Hollen Praises Clarification of Wisconsin's Sex Offender Registration Law By State Court of Appeals

 

"The sex offender registry promotes the state's health, safety, and welfare by helping law enforcement investigate crime and catch offenders.  The court of appeals' decision safeguards those interests by keeping the narrow exemption for underage sexual activity from being expanded to offenders who are more than four-years-older than their victims."

 

MADISON - In an appeal brought by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals today reversed an order exempting Matthew Parmley from registering as a sex offender.  It clarified that application of the exemption to sex offender registration for underage sexual activity by an offender "not more than four years older" than a victim in Wis. Stat. 301.45(1m) (a)2. is to be determined by calculating the time between the offender's birthday and the victim's birthday.

 

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen praised the court of appeals' decision:  "The sex offender registry promotes the state's health, safety, and welfare by helping law enforcement investigate crime and catch offenders.  The court of appeals' decision safeguards those interests by keeping the narrow exemption for underage sexual activity from being expanded to offenders who are more than four-years-older than their victims."

 

Parmley was convicted of second degree sexual assault of a child for having sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl.  He had to register as a sex offender as a result of his conviction.  He was 18-years-old at the time of the offense but his birth date was four-years,  four-months, and 23-days before his victim's.  He asked the circuit court to exempt him from registering based on an exemption for underage sexual activity applicable when an offender is "not more than four years older" than the victim. 

 

The circuit court exempted Parmley from registering.  It determined that Parmley was "no more than four years" older than the victim by subtracting Parmley's age at the time of the offense of 18 from the victim's age at the time of the offense of 14.

 

The court of appeals reversed.  Adopting the state's position, it held that "to determine if an actor is exempt from registering as a sex offender, the time between the birth dates of the two parties is to be determined."  It emphasized that, under the circuit court's method, there could be almost a five-year difference in age between an offender and a victim.  It stated that using actual birth dates to calculate age disparity prevented a narrow exception to sex offender registration "from being enlarged by application to actors who are actually more than four years older than the victim." 

 

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals' decision in State of Wisconsin v. Matthew Parmley, Appeal No. 2009AP1210-CR, appears at the court's website at:
http://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=50226

 

Sheboygan County Assistant District Attorney Joel Urmanski represented the state in the circuit court.  Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Rapp St. John represented the state on appeal.