Sex offenders sue over Indiana registry requirement

INDIANAPOLIS — Three men have filed a lawsuit over an Indiana requirement that they register as sex offenders when moving to the state, saying they’re being treated differently than other residents in similar situations.

Patrick Rice, Adam Bash and Scott Rush all were convicted out of state and before the enactment of the Indiana Sex Offender Registration Act, The Indianapolis Star reported. The men’s lawsuit says that in accordance with an Indiana Supreme Court ruling, the Department of Correction does not typically require sex offenders convicted before the act went into effect to register, provided they have never left the state. But the state does require offenders who have temporarily left Indiana or are moving to Indiana to register.

“This case concerns a narrow constitutional question: whether Indiana can require new residents to register as sex offenders when it does not impose the same requirements on longtime Indiana residents who have never left the state,” said Gavin Rose, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which is representing the men.

The lawsuit argues that the requirement that the men register violates their rights to equal protection and due process.

A spokesman for the Correction Department directed the newspaper to the attorney general’s office. A spokesman for that office said it was reviewing the matter but didn’t comment further.

Indiana passed its sex offender registry law in 1994. Rice was convicted in Illinois in 1989 and moved to Indiana in 2017. Bash was convicted in Kentucky in 1990 and moved to Indiana around 1999 or 2000. Rush was convicted in Florida in 1992 and moved to Indiana in 2017.

“To the extent that the plaintiffs are required to register as sex or violent offenders — and are subjected to the numerous burdens that that designation entails — but a similarly situated individual who has never left Indiana is not, this classification is also irrational and violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the suit says.

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