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Missouri Supreme Court Takes Up Halloween Sex Offender Law


Jefferson City, MO – An Audrain County prosecutor is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to let him prosecute a convicted sex offender for violating a state law that bars offenders from taking part in Halloween activities.

Charles Raynor of Mexico, Missouri, was arrested in 2008 after a woman at his house handed out candy to trick-or-treaters.

The restrictions, which were adopted last year, require sex offenders to turn off their porch lights Halloween night and post signs stating that no candy or treats are available. Raynor's attorney, Ellen Flottman, argued that the restrictions are unconstitutional:

Ellen Flottman: "The Missouri Constitution prohibits Missouri from enacting laws that are retrospective in nature the fact that he has this prior conviction in the state of Washington, whether the state of Washington would have required him to not participate in Halloween activities, I don't think has any impact on the actions he's being charged with here."

Raynor's sex crime conviction in Washington happened 10 years before Missouri's Halloween restrictions became law. Audrain County Prosecutor Jacob Shellabarger argued before the High Court that the timing should not matter:

Jacob Shellabarger: "This statute was passed, was signed into law by the governor, and became effective August 28th of 2008, and this defendant had more than two months of notice at that time."

The Missouri Supreme Court will issue its ruling at a later date.

Marshall Griffin is the Statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.
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