A group of sex offenders in Georgia have filed a lawsuit against a local sheriff who put up signs at their homes warning Halloween trick-or-treaters to stay away.
In response to an increase of children going door-to-door on Halloween for candy last year, Butts County Sheriff Gary Long decided to post signs that read “No Trick or Treat” at every registered sex offender’s home in the county, according to a press release he wrote on Monday. That means signs were put up in front of hundreds of residences.
“This was done to ensure the safety of our children,” Long wrote.
However, Mark Yurachek, the attorney representing several of those sex offenders, told Fox 5 Atlanta that the signs violate his clients’ privacy and rights. As this year’s Halloween is right around the bend, the sex offenders want the signs taken down.
“The law allows the sheriff to put a list of registered sex offenders at his office, at the courthouse, on the internet,” Yurachek told the outlet. “It does not allow him to go door-to-door telling people you have a sex offender living next door to you.”
He said that the sheriff’s office trespassed on his clients’ properties to post the signs.
“They are individuals who have been brave enough to not be afraid to let the public know that they are registered sex offenders, but are also not willing to tolerate this unlawful action by the sheriff,” he added.
Three sex offenders –– Christopher Reed, Reginald Holden, and Corey McClendon –– have filed the lawsuit, asking for both a block of the signs and for damages, WGXA in Macon reports.
Long says he will fight the effort.
“Attorneys representing several sex offenders have filed a lawsuit against my staff and I,” he wrote. “The sex offenders have asked a Federal Judge to stop my Office from placing these signs this year.”
He said he will make an argument to the Federal Court on Thursday that he is protecting his community’s children and doing so under Georgia Law.
“Regardless of the Judge’s ruling this Thursday, I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community,” Long wrote in his press release.
Meanwhile, Yurachek told Fox 5, "I'm just not sure that this kind of action makes your kids any safer. It just makes your constitutional rights less safe."
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