The state Supreme Court issued an opinion in an interesting case recently:
A teenager who sexually assaulted a 4-year-old girl in Ravalli County when he was 13 must register as a sexual offender under a Montana Supreme Court ruling issued this month.
The court’s ruling came in a 2009 case involving a Wyoming youth who admitted abusing the girl while visiting Montana. Last March, Ravalli County District Court placed him on probation until he’s 25 and required him to register as a sex offender.
But the state Office of Public Defender appealed that designation in November, pointing out that the boy himself had been abused, starting at the age of 6, by an uncle and a half-brother.
“Registration is a scarlet letter,” the public defender’s office contended in its appeal on behalf of the boy, identified in court papers only by his initials. Rather than the “scorn” of registration, rehabilitating the youth would best serve the public, it said.
The state argued that the public’s right to safety overrode all other concerns.