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Ministry leader, sex offender file lawsuit against city


Lawsuit filed hopes to stop police from arresting sex offenders who live together. An attorney says it could force offenders 'underground.'

Tim Farley October 8th, 2013

Police should not be allowed to retroactively enforce a 2012 law that prevents two convicted sex offenders from living together, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Oklahoma County District Court.

David Nichols, president of Hand Up Ministries, and convicted sex offender Bernard Richard Lagrow have requested a judge consider a temporary restraining order forbidding law enforcement personnel from arresting or charging suspects in these types of cases.

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt were named as individual defendants. Oklahoma City also was named as a defendant.

Lagrow’s attorney, David Slane, citing a June 2013 Oklahoma Supreme Court case, Starkey v. Oklahoma Department of Corrections, said the 2012 law cannot be applied retroactively to offenders who were convicted prior to the law’s enactment. Lagrow was convicted of lewd molestation on Oct. 16, 1997.

Hand Up Ministries, located at 2130 SE 59th St., is a nonprofit ministry that provides counseling, treatment and housing options for convicted sex offenders. The ministry is located on 14.2 acres and consists of 118 trailers or manufactured homes. The ministry was created prior to lawmakers passing the sex offender law.

After the measure was approved in 2012, half of the men living in the trailers were forced to leave, Slane said.

“Some (offenders) had been living there for some time. Probation and law enforcement officials knew where they were. Now, those who left are transients and probably have gone underground,” he said.

“We would never prohibit two convicted murderers or two convicted drug dealers from living together.”

 
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