Witness/Offender Wants to Go Door to Door

This is an interesting case about who gets caught in the net of sex abuse convictions. It also shows that there are consequences for bad behavior.

"CINCINNATI (CN) - A Jehovah’s Witness who was convicted of felony attempted sexual abuse has sued the State of Ohio, claiming it unconstitutionally prohibits him from practicing his religion by proselytizing door-to-door more than once a month.

Lawrence Bullard says he should be allowed to proselytize door-to-door twice a week with other Witnesses, as their religion requires. He says he’s an exceedingly low risk to re-offend, and the circumstances prove it.

Bullard says that in the incident that got him in trouble, he reported himself to police and waited for them to come arrest him after he argued with his fiancée."

courthousenews.com/2010/03/10/25418.htm

If he was found guilty, regardless of him turning himself in, he needs to be subject to the law just like anyone else who breaks civil law. I hope they have the integrity to stand up to him. I would want to know if a registered sex offender were allowed to roam the city , so I can call the Sheriff if he dares to come onto my property, let alone at my front door.

The problem is that he was a sex offender as to a woman two states away. Plus, is a state allowed to tell a person not to practice their religion?

What if a DUI convictee was ordered not to take wine at Mass? Is that constitutional?

Hmmm . . .
I can see his point. Here in NY if you go ten years w/o reoffending and have gotten your life together you can petition to have your record purged, but that's very hard with a sexual felony and there's no getting removed from the database.

On the matter of 1st Amendment rights I'd have to say that you can lose some rights by committing a felony although it seems silly in this guy's case.

I’m not sure whether its constitutional, but I would say that as a citizen one has an obligation to follow the law, even if it contradicts his religion, even in the example you give. Suppose there were a religion (let’s say an orthodox form of neo- Norse paganism) that demands one to sacrifice every third child to Wotan once he/she reaches the age of 12. Preventing him from doing so would inhibit his freedom to practice his religion. The state has an obligation to impose certain “reasonable limits” on all freedoms (i.e., for speech, shouting fire in a crowded theatre, etc.), including religion. Of course, it is always a matter of debate what exactly the limits should be.

However, one may also say that any sincerely religious individual values his religion more than his citizenship, and will (perhaps even should, if his religion is the right one) violate the law if he must in order to follow his religious beliefs. For example, if a nation ordered mandatory abortions for every woman’s/couple’s third child and beyond as a means of populations control, a sincere Christian (or Muslim, Orthodox Jew, etc.) might feel the need to disobey the law because he considers the moral imperative, what he considers to be the edict of God, to be more important than the law of the state.

I think the problem is that they backed down to allow him to go door-to-door at all. I would not feel safe if I knew such an individual might be showing up on my door step, so I think the public safety comes first, and he’ll just have to find another way to practice his religion. Then again, I’m someone who was once a victim of an attempted sex crime and fought back (which is why it was attempted). “Low risk” doesn’t mean zero and there’s got to be a whole lot more to the story, because what he’s saying he did sounds like Class A misdemeanor (forcible touching–which is only a registerable offense if the victim is under 18) rather than a felony charge, and guilty pleas are usually for a charge less than what would have been the case if he’d gone to trial.

Beau,
Yes it is an interesting story, and if you believe his side of the story his penalty is fairly harsh. However, he did commit a sexual penalty and the right to your liberties, including the right to life or religious expression can be lost when you commit a crime. His crime, even by his own admission, was serious one. In this particular case allowing him his full expression of his chosen religion creates a risk to the public. Thus I wouldn't remove his penalty. I would, however, consult with the religious authorities of his faith to see if visits to those incarcerated could be substituted for home visits. Why not let him proselytize in prison? Then the danger is to him, not others. Or, let him proselytize via the telephone?

That’s a great idea :slight_smile:

Still, I’m glad I live in the country, and I have the right to remove predators of all kinds :wink:
But it makes me think twice about JWs being allowed to the house.

I think it’s time to put up a more inclusive “No trespassing” sign. It disturbs me to think that a sexual offender is allowed to go door to door…

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