Georgia Sheriff’s Sex Offender Trick-or-Treat Signs Lead to Lawsuit

October 25, 2019 Updated: October 25, 2019

A sheriff’s department in Georgia is under fire after placing signs in front of sex offenders’ homes during Halloween.

Last year, Butts County Sheriff Gary Long told his deputies to place signs with the text, “Warning! No Trick-or-Treat at this address,” in front of the homes of about 200 registered sex offenders.

Long explained that he had done so because a local Halloween event was cancelled, which meant more trick-or-treaters would be going door-to-door, Fox5 reported.

A photo shows the sign in question. (Butts County Sheriff’s Office)

“My office took precautions and placed signs indicating ‘No Trick or Treat’ at each registered sex offender’s residence in the County,” he wrote earlier this week. “This was done to ensure the safety of our children.”

Long said he wanted to implement the same plan this year, but three sex offenders filed a lawsuit, saying the signs violate their rights to privacy and freedom of speech.

“I’m just not sure that this kind of action makes your kids any safer,” said attorney Mark Yurachek in the Fox5 report. “It just makes your constitutional rights less safe.”

He added that the “The trespass stuff is pretty clear. They’re coming onto their property and putting the signs on there.”

The Georgia State Sex Offender Registry does not require offenders to have signs outside their homes.

Yurachek said that under the law, sex offenders have no obligation to tell the public of their status once they are registered.

“The law allows the sheriff to put a list of registered sex offenders at his office, at the courthouse, on the Internet,” he said. “It does not allow him to go door-to-door telling people you have a sex offender living next door to you.”

But Long, in the post, said he will make the argument to a federal court that he is protecting children.

“We will argue to the Federal Court that we are protecting our children and following Georgia Law by placing these signs. 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,” he wrote.

In the post’s comments section, a number of people expressed support.

“Our office is being inundated with phone calls about the status of the hearing that took place this morning. Per the Staff and Sheriff’s Attorney, we have been advised to make no statements until the Judge has made a ruling. The Judge has made no ruling at this time,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Thursday.

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