Judge keeps sex offender’s voting suit alive

July 28, 2016

A registered sex offender’s lawsuit against the Indiana Secretary of State and other parties will proceed, a federal judge ruled Thursday, denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss.

Blackford County resident Brian Valenti filed the federal suit alleging his First and 14th Amendment rights were violated because he cannot vote at the local polling place located in the Blackford County High School auxiliary gym. Valenti’s suit challenges I.C. 35-42-4-14 that prohibits “serious sex offenders” from entering school property. The law took effect in 2015, and Valenti meets the definition of serious sex offender under the statute.

District Judge William T. Lawrence in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Indiana wrote that Valenti may still vote either at another polling place that isn’t a school nine miles from his home or by voting absentee. It’s unclear, however, whether barring him from voting at the precinct closest to his home unjustifiably burdens his right to vote.

“While it remains to be seen whether this restriction rises to the level of a constitutional violation, the Plaintiff has met the low threshold for pleading injury required to demonstrate that he has standing,” Lawrence wrote in denying the motion to dismiss in Brian Valenti v. Indiana Secretary of State, et al., 1:15-cv-1304.

The Associated Press reported last year Valenti was convicted in 1993 of engaging in lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 in 1988 in California, but he has not been convicted of any other sex offenses against children. He moved to the area where he has family in 2014.

Valenti is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.


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