Articles Posted in Sex Offenders Registry

A federal court has made a ruling which will temporarily suspend a prior order that would have invalidated Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA). The pandemic has made it virtually impossible for lawmaker to convene to actually be able to make changes and rewrite the invalidated laws surrounding SORA. The pandemic has also brought a lot of confusion surrounding any type of real enforcement as the police are also dealing with their own issues related to COVID-19. This judge’s ruling makes clear that the registry cannot be enforced during this pandemic.

Original Problems With SORA

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland issued a decision that invalidates parts of the Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA). His ruling has stated that parts of SORA are actually unconstitutional and must be rewritten. This dealt, in part, with requirements that people on the registry were not allowed to work or live less than 1,000 feet from where children gather and play. This among other rules were added in 2006 and 2011 and subsequently applied retroactively to people already on the registry. The judge also ruled that several provisions of SORA are void due to vagueness, strict liability issues, and under the First Amendment. This ruling affects some 44,000 people that are currently on the registry. This is a fight that has been raging on since the same Judge making a similar ruling back in 2015. The state legislature has been pushed to rewrite SORA legislation so it can fall back under constitutional rules, but they still have not done so. With the current pandemic, it does not look like these changes will be taking place anytime soon.

What Is The Michigan Sex Offender Registry?

In the state of Michigan, if you are convicted of a sex crime, then you are likely facing some repercussions involving the Michigan Sex Offender Registry. The Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act is a statute that prohibits a few things if you are convicted of a sex crime:

• Offenders are not allowed to live, work, or even stand within 1,000 feet from a school

The State of North Carolina like Michigan has what’s called a satellite-based monitoring as part of their arm of punishment for repeat sex offenders and other specific offenders. This is essentially a GPS tether that someone must wear every day for the rest of their lives, even if they have completed probation or parole and are not otherwise being supervised by the state. As such, the government has essentially “tagged” someone and will always have their whereabouts available to law enforcement. This tagging becomes automatic in North Carolina once it’s shown that the violator is a repeat offender.

How did we even get here?

This issue was made possible when the United States Supreme Court ruled that satellite-based monitoring systems like the one in North Carolina constituted a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. The court described the system as attaching an ankle monitor to a person’s body, without consent, for the purpose of tracking that individual’s movements. The court remanded the case and directed the lower court to determine whether the State of North Carolina’s satellite-based monitoring system was reasonable when viewed as a search subject to the protections of the Fourth Amendment.

Anyone who is a registered sex offender knows the negative impact it has on your life.  Most sex offenders are shunned by society, have problems finding employment or housing, and face other tough issues.  Whether you’ve been required to register for 15 years or a lifetime, any time at all spend on the Sex Offender Registry, or SORA, is too much time.  Is there a way to get off the list?  Perhaps.  We’ve included what you need to know below.

First of all, who’s eligible to petition for removal from SORA?

There are basically four scenarios in which someone who has been convicted and is currently on the sex offender registry can petition for removal from SORA through the trial court.

These include:

Romeo & Juliet (consent cases)
Juvenile offenders (determination)
SORA registrants convicted of crimes that no longer require registration
Tier I and Tier III offenders no longer considered a threat to public safety

It is important to note that when filing a petition to have your name removed from SORA, you get only one opportunity to get it right.  For this reason, it’s recommended you consult a qualified attorney.
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On Wednesday August 6, 45-year-old Bruce Scherzer of Bay city was arraigned on five felony charges in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a girl who is younger than 13, according to news reports at

The girl reported the two incidents, which allegedly took place in July, to staff at the Nathan Weidner Children’s Advocacy Center. She claimed that Scherzer had touched her private area, and had her touch his private area at a Bangor Township residence, and claimed that he had sex with her on two different occasions.

Scherzer is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 13, an offense that if convicted could leave him facing up to life in prison. The mandatory minimum sentence for a conviction of first-degree CSC with someone younger than 13 is 25 years. Scherzer is also charged with three counts of second-degree CSC with a person younger than 13, a 15-year felony.

Scherzer, a married father of four children, requested that Bay County District Judge Mark E. Janer appoint him an attorney, as he could not afford to hire a lawyer himself. His bond was set at $200,000 as requested by the prosecutor, who said Scherzer had been convicted on a conspiracy to commit armed robbery charge back in the mid-90’s.

Protecting a defendant’s freedom and reputation can be extremely tough in sexual assault cases, particularly when children are involved. As all Michigan sex crime attorneys are aware, too many innocent people are found guilty of crimes of this nature. Children are easily influenced by adults, who may coerce them into making up stories or saying things that are not factual. While children are sexually abused in our country every day, there are unfortunately many cases in which innocent individuals sit behind bars today.

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Last week, 54-year-old Cameron Thor, an acting coach in Los Angeles who has appeared in several movies and gave teens acting lessons, was charged with 14 counts of sexual assault against a minor and kidnapping, according to an article at Deadline|Hollywood. The charges are in connection with a 13-year-old girl whom Thor gave acting lessons to in 2008, when the alleged sexual assault took place.

Thor’s arraignment was originally scheduled for Thursday June 5, but was postponed to June 19. Thor gave acting lessons in the Carter Thor Studio in Studio City, CA. The District Attorney in the case claims that the 13-year-old girl was given marijuana by Thor before he sexually assaulted her. Thor, perhaps best known for a bit part in Jurassic Park, allegedly raped the girl in a secluded area in Los Angeles’ tony Agoura Hills section. The sexual assaults are said to have taken place over a time span of 11 months, beginning in April of 2008 and continuing until March of 2009, according to the NY Daily News.

At last report, Thor was in jail on a $2.6 million bail.

When penetration is involved, those accused face extremely serious criminal penalties if found guilty. In California, statutory rape will leave the accused individual facing up to 5 years in prison if charged as a felony offense. Statutory rape is considered a “wobbler” offense in the state, which means it may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The law is very different in Michigan, where statutory rape is typically charged as third-degree criminal sexual conduct and punished by a maximum of 15 years in prison.

First-degree criminal sexual conduct is the most serious sex offense charge in Michigan, and will leave the defendant facing up to life in prison if convicted. In addition, the majority of offenders are required to register on Michigan’s sex offender registry, which means their information can be viewed by anyone who chooses to search the website including friends, co-workers, potential employers, and others.

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In 1996, Steven D. Young, a Bangor Township resident, pleaded no contest to a single count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim younger than 13 years of age.  He was sentenced to eight to 30 years in prison the following February, and paroled by the Michigan Department of Corrections in May of 2012.  Now, Young faces up to 15 years in prison for violating his parole after authorities discovered that Young maintains a Facebook page under another name, and runs an off-the-books tattoo parlor.

According to a news report at, an unnamed tipster informed the Bay City Public Safety Department about Young’s Facebook page, saying that Young was using the name Steve Wolcott and that he was becoming friends on the social media site with single mothers of young children.  Bay City police then contacted a Sex Offender Registry Coordinator at the Michigan State Police Tri-City Post.

Young had apparently posted a picture of himself giving another man a tattoo in a kitchen, which the tipster compared with a mug shot of Young.  The tipster then provided police with the picture from “Wolcott’s” Facebook page along with a mug shot of Young for comparison.  Police determined that Steve Wolcott was indeed Steven D. Young.

Derrick Conway, a 50-year-old Saginaw man, has been charged with sexually assaulting a mentally handicapped woman from April to June of this year, according to a news article at Conway, who was charged with five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, underwent examination to determine if he is mentally fit to face trial. The defendant was found mentally competent according to a report from the Center for Forensic Psychiatry.

The alleged victim is said to be in her early 20s. According to his arrest warrant Conway assaulted the victim who was determined to be mentally incapacitated or incapable, or physically helpless using coercion or force and/or caused personal injury. Conway’s defense lawyer, Philip Sturtz, requested an exam to determine whether his client is mentally fit. Following Saginaw County District Judge M.T. Thompson’s ruling on Monday that Conway is mentally fit to stand trial, his preliminary hearing was scheduled for December 19. A preliminary hearing is when it is determined whether probable cause exists for trial.

If convicted, Conway will face a maximum sentence of life in prison. He remains in jail on a $500,000 bond.

First-degree criminal sexual conduct is the most serious sex crime of all, leaving those accused facing life-changing penalties if convicted. Depending on the circumstances, individuals who are found guilty may be sentenced to up to life behind bars. All sex offenses are serious, and require the legal guidance and support of a capable Michigan sex crime defense attorney.

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Chad Eric Servis, a 42-year-old Wyoming resident, was recently charged with two counts of accosting children for immoral purposes as a repeat offender after allegedly attempting to get three boys who were under the age of 16 to go with him to a secluded area of Ideal Park. The boys were playing basketball on a court near the park when the incident took place.

According to a news article at, the boys did not go with Servis, but went and told their parents about Servis. At that point, the parents along with other family members went back to the park and located Servis, then detained the suspect until police arrived on the scene.

Wyoming police said that Servis had items in his possession which were sex related, including handcuffs, lubricant, a blindfold and other items. If convicted, Servis could spend up to 10 years in prison. Wyoming Police Officer Jonathan Durall said that the suspect admitted that he was sexually attracted to young boys.

The incident occurred on June 29 at approximately 7 p.m. Servis was arraigned on Monday July 1 in Wyoming District Court, and is being held on a $100,000 bond in the Kent County Jail. A probable cause hearing has been scheduled for July 10.

Michigan sex crime attorneys know that in situations such as this one, the suspect will likely face more severe penalties than usual because of the fact he is a repeat sexual offender. Sex offenses are punished severely in the state of Michigan, particularly those involving minors. However, in cases where there is no hard physical evidence, it can also be a case of one person’s word against another, which means many innocent people sit behind bars today for crimes they did not commit.

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John D. Hunt, a 29-year-old convicted sex offender, was recently wanted by Norwalk and Huron County authorities in Ohio after Hunt failed to report as a sex offender. In 1999, Hunt was charged with criminal sexual conduct in Lansing, Michigan after being investigated by Lansing police. He was convicted on the charge through a Wayne County juvenile court.

News reports indicate that authorities have been searching for Hunt since October. Hunt last registered his address on September 14th, and was living in Marion in September of 2011. However, Hunt allegedly had an address most recently in Greenwich on South Railroad Street. A certified letter warning Hunt that he had seven days to register was sent out on September 26th by authorities, according to Norwalk Assistant Law Director Scott Christophel, who stated in news reports that Hunt did not reply to the letter.

Christophel also told reporters that Huron County sheriff’s deputies were not successful in their attempts to personally contact Hunt, and that they tried on three occasions. Hunt pleaded guilty in Huron County Common Pleas Court to attempted failure to register as a sex offender in June of 2011 following a 2010 incident that allegedly took place sometime between September and November of that year. Hunt had moved to Huron County in 2004, but his registered address was shown to be Greenwich, which authorities disproved.

Hunt was ordered to register his address until April of 2014 by Judge Jim Conway in October of 2011. Hunt was sentenced to two years probation and a $250 fine, and was credited for 36 days in the Huron County Jail which were already served. Now, Hunt could face up to 18 months in prison if found in violation of his probation terms.

Michigan sex offender registry defense attorneys understand the seriousness of failing to notify authorities of an address change. Convicted sex offenders are usually required to register, however the restrictions placed on these individuals can have a devastating impact on their lives. Individuals lose the freedom to choose where they live, are often disqualified for government programs or student loans, and may find it extremely difficult to secure employment.

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