November 16, 2014

Rape victim wants registry retroactive

11-16-2014 Iowa:

In 1983, Kathleen Carr was a 23-year-old overnight clerk at a 7-Eleven store in Des Moines.

About 3:30 a.m. on a frigid February night, an 18-year-old named Clifford Freeman III walked into the store on Hickman Road. He wore sunglasses and a shower cap, and was armed with a shotgun and a straight-edge razor.

After robbing the place, Freeman forced Carr to drive her Volkswagen to a car wash bay nearby, where he raped and terrorized her until eventually police found them both.

"It was brutal," she said last week during an interview at a Des Moines-area Dahl's. "He tried to kill me, and he probably would have had police not shown up."

Imagine, then, how Carr, now 55, felt last month when she learned for the first time that Freeman never came close to serving the two 25-year sentences she'd heard he received after a conviction for first-degree robbery and sexual assault.

What bothers her more: Freeman, now 50, is not required to be on Iowa's Sex Offender Registry.

Her question to the Reader's Watchdog: Why aren't offenders whose crimes predate Iowa's 1995 sex offender law on the state registry?

The Des Moines Register typically does not identify sexual abuse victims. But Carr was willing to allow use of her name in this column because she wants policymakers to know who she is and why the issue is so important to her.

To date, 17 states across the nation have adopted nearly all requirements of the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, including provisions that mandate registration for offenders whose crimes predate the act.

But in some, requiring registration to be applied retroactively has run up against constitutional challenges.

Ex post facto clauses in both federal and state constitutions forbid enactment of laws that impose greater punishment for an act that was not punishable when committed.

The Supreme Court of Ohio, for example, recently found part of the state's Adam Walsh law unlawful because that state's constitution expressly prohibits enactment of retroactive laws. Maryland's law also underwent a similar challenge.

But the U.S. Supreme Court has said it does not consider registration to be punishment, and the Iowa Supreme Court has agreed.

In a case called State v. Pickens, the high court determined the state's 1995 registration law was motivated by concern for public safety, not further punishment.

To date, however, state lawmakers have never seriously discussed making the registry apply to crimes before 1995.

Lawmakers willing to discuss issue

Last week, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle told me they would be more than willing to discuss a proposal if Carr reached out to them.

State Rep. Clel Baudler, chairman of the House's public safety ..Continued.. by Lee Rood

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