Offender fights registry rule

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An Evans man convicted in December 2005 of statutory rape is appealing his placement on Georgia's sex offender registry.

William Archer Stulb, 22, was convicted for having sexual contact in 2003 with a 14-year-old girl when he was 18. He was sentenced under the First Offender Act to one year in jail followed by nine years' probation.

Though Mr. Stulb has been free since December, he has not registered as a sex offender, by a judge's order.

On Friday, Mr. Stulb asked Columbia County Superior Court Judge Duncan Wheale to terminate his probation and resentence him to a misdemeanor so he will not have to register as a sex offender. Failing that, he asked the judge to rule that his placement on the sex offender registry is unconstitutional.

Until state law was changed last year, a sex offender convicted under the First Offender Act would not be required to file under the sex offender registry if a judge terminated probation. But under the new laws enacted in 2006, first offenders must register even if they successfully complete their sentences.

On Friday, Richard Allen, Mr. Stulb's attorney, argued that changes in state law have effectively changed his client's sentence.

"It's lifetime damnation," Mr. Allen said after the hearing. If Mr. Stulb files with the registry, he would face limits on where he can live and work.

"You can't work, you can't go to school without risking 30 years" imprisonment for not registering, Mr. Allen said.

In 2006, Mr. Stulb appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals after Judge Wheale lengthened his original sentence in a remolding hearing. The appellate court overruled Judge Wheale and reinstated the original sentence.

On Friday, Judge Wheale said the charge against Mr. Stulb could not be reduced to a misdemeanor and that he is not inclined to terminate his probation.

Under the state's so-called Romeo and Juliet clause, minors engaged in sexual relationships can be charged with a misdemeanor if the difference in their ages is less than four years. Mr. Stulb is four years and two months older than his victim.

But the judge said an argument as to the law's constitutionality can be made. He said some clauses in the law, including one that prohibits offenders from "loitering" near churches, are "ambiguous."

The judge said sexual predators who are a danger to society should be monitored. But if reports of teen sex rates at 50 percent are correct, he said, "that tells me as a judge we have half of the high school kids who are sexual offenders. Are we ready to put them on the sex offender registry?"

Judge Wheale said he wanted to hear the opinion of the state's attorney general at a later hearing, and he told Mr. Stulb that if the law is affirmed he would apply it despite his personal feelings.

District Attorney Danny Craig said he is absolutely opposed to an attempt to change sex offenders' sentences.

Sentences shouldn't change just because of an administrative change, he said, calling it a violation of the separation of powers. Legislators make laws, courts enforce them and the people speak through their legislators, he said.

"It's the people speaking. Courts should be averse to taking action opposed to what the people say," Mr. Craig said.

A review of sex offenders sentenced in Richmond County Superior Court since 1990 showed 73 people were sentenced under the First Offender Act, according to a database maintained by The Augusta Chronicle.

A review of court records shows that 14 of those defendants have recently petitioned the court to terminate their sentences early so that they do not have to register as sex offenders.

Reach J. Scott Trubey at 706-868-1222, ext. 109 or jeffery.trubey@augustachronicle.com.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.


WHAT'S NEXT?

The Georgia Supreme Court will soon decide whether a Superior Court judge was correct to find the state's previous 10-year mandatory minimum sentence was correct for a teenager who engaged in sodomy with a consenting younger teenager. If the same crime occurred today between teens less than four years apart, the crime would only be a misdemeanor punishable by a one-year sentence. Legislators changed the law governing punishment under those circumstances, but they didn't make it retroactive to apply to those previously convicted.

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georgiaformerso
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georgiaformerso 07/22/07 - 12:18 pm
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so solutions--- I agree with

so solutions--- I agree with you 100%, Although I do not consider myself a sexual predator, I am on the registry for child molesting (intra familial). I know that I would never molest another child, however, I consider it part of my punishment if I have to register for the rest of my life, and I deserve it. But Mr. Stulb made a mistake in judgment that he probably learned from and should not be in the same class of registrants as someone like me.
What bothers me the most about the S.O. registries is that since everyone on the registry is classified the same in the public's eye, many people with children are in fear when a registered sex offender moves into their neighborhood. Yet, when the media publish stories, such as this one, most of the public sides with the alleged sex offender because they know the facts surrounding the case. Just look at the Genarlow Wilson case. Most everyone familiar with the case sides with Mr. Wilson. But let him move into a neighborhood as a registered sex offender where no one knows him, and the soccer moms go crazy. 40-50% of the registered sex offenders are people like Wilson and Mr. Stulb. Parents, please educate yourself about your neighbors.

sweetpea
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sweetpea 07/23/07 - 08:06 am
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Why are the females never

Why are the females never punished? I understand they are underage but they know what they are doing. They lie about their age...and look at them. They make themselves look much older than they are. It's just not right that the males are being charged as "sex offenders" and have this stigma the rest of their lives and the females are off scott free. If the relationship is consenting on both parts then they shouldn't be charged as a sex offender.

RogueKnight
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RogueKnight 07/23/07 - 11:25 am
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TrueLeadership, I'm not

TrueLeadership, I'm not trying to be an apologist for criminals. All I am saying is there should be a change in sex offender registry laws to differentiate between predatory (sexual assault, sexual battery, rape, etc.) and non-predatory offenses (i.e., misdemeanor statutory rape, especially for high school aged kids.) Branding high school age kids as sex offenders for the rest of their lives over a momentary lapse in judgment isn't right, unless it is repeat behavior. Cut them a break on the first offense, especially if it was consensual. Send both kids to counseling, and if there's a second offense, then register them. My opinion, for what it's worth.

CHIEF
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CHIEF 07/23/07 - 12:20 pm
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this is all bs.. if you have

this is all bs.. if you have sex with a minor then you pay big and hard. you should go to jail for 20 years or more. crying now is too late. register and by happy your alive.

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