Friday, November 14, 2008

Sex Offenders and Child Endangerment

State v. Mitchell, no. 07-0438 (Iowa Nov. 14, 2008)

Holly Mitchell, a single mother of two young children, moved in with her boyfriend who is a registered sex offender. Her ex husband arranged to have Mitchell take the kids for a weekend while he did National Guard duty, but did not want the children alone with the mother's paramour.  

The ex husband contacted the Department of Human Services and the Coralville police after the visit to express his concerns.

Holly was charged with child endangerment and was convicted. 

She challenged the constitutionality of Iowa Code sec. 726.6(1)(h), the child endangerment statute, which prohibits parents of minors from  cohabitation with a registered sex offender while allowing the same thing with parents of minors who are married to a registered sex offender.

Mitchell argued that there was no rational basis for a statute that treats married and unmarried people living with sex offenders differently, but the Court differed, finding a rational basis in the legislature's  choice of alternatives in limiting access to children that sex offenders might have.  It thus upheld the conviction and sentence.

Justice Wiggins dissented.


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