Local News

High court: Social media ban for NC sex offenders still in effect

Posted August 30, 2013

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— The North Carolina Supreme Court ordered Friday that a state law barring registered sex offenders from using social media websites remain in effect for now.

The court granted a stay requested by Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is appealing a ruling handed down last week by the state Court of Appeals that struck down the 2008 law.

“We plan to ask the Supreme Court to review the case and uphold this tool that law enforcement and prosecutors can use to protect children,” Cooper said in a statement.

The appellate court agreed with Lester Gerard Packingham Jr., who appealed his May 2012 conviction for accessing a commercial social networking website on the grounds that the law violated his right to free speech and expression. The Durham man also was convicted in 2002 for taking indecent liberties with a child.

Judges said the law "is not narrowly tailored, is vague, and fails to target the 'evil' it is intended to rectify." They also found that the law fails to give people fair notice of what is prohibited and doesn't specify the difference between mainstream social media sites such as Facebook, where children may be members, from other sites that include a social media arm, such as Google or Amazon.

Cooper lobbied for the 2008 Protect Children from Sexual Predators Act, and he said the law needed to be written broadly to accommodate changes in technology.

“Instead of lurking around playgrounds, today’s child predators go online where they can groom multiple victims at once,” he said. “Along with tough laws, strong law enforcement, and education efforts, keeping known sex abusers off of social networking sites helps protect children.”

26 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • jcthai Aug 30, 2013

    This is just silly. The law is clearly unconstitutional. The legislature could probably use this special session to pass a fixed law that isn't overly broad, but no, they want to keep the charade going with McCrory that he actually could veto a law that was passed by the right.

  • trekkie13 Aug 30, 2013

    Since the element of speech is involved this is a subject that is likely going to be ultimately addressed and solved in the federal courts. No matter what the NC state supreme court decides this issue is likely heading to a higher court in the federal system.

  • Alexia.1 Aug 30, 2013

    "now I'm not against this but didn't the Supreme court just strike this down in another state? There ARE 'sex offenders' out there who do not prey on children and never have so I'm pretty sure there is no easy answer" --profileScubagirl

    And there are some who were charged with statutory rape of a minor, because one was 18 and the other was 15 or 17 (depending on the state law). That sex offender is also not likely pedophiles, either.

    I see no reason to restrict social networking for adults who are not pedophiles.

    Likewise, I don't see any reason to tell a convicted felon he cannot own a gun when the felony is non-violent (e.g., embezzlement or operating a business without a proper license). Sometimes, our laws are too heavy-handed and do not target the problem.

  • Scubagirl Aug 30, 2013

    now I'm not against this but didn't the Supreme court just strike this down in another state?
    There ARE 'sex offenders' out there who do not prey on children and never have so I'm pretty sure there is no easy answer

  • dcatz Aug 30, 2013

    "This is why I worked so hard to have an orthodox NC Supreme Court. ANYONE, who doesn't see that banning predators from a tool upon which they can prey on our children is mentally disturbed. And any derivative comments to try and water down this truth is from people who are either predators themselves or apologist for predators."

    Being a registered sex offender does not mean someone is a predator. In many states, something as innocuous as public urination can be considered a sex offense.

  • Alexia.1 Aug 30, 2013

    "We plan to ask the Supreme Court to review the case and uphold this tool that law enforcement and prosecutors can use to protect children" -- Roy Cooper

    What about the "sex offenders" who are not pedophiles? It seems like he has good intentions, but like so many lawyers, they do not think through the problem entirely. He appears to have a narrow target, but dragging a very wide net.

  • dwntwnboy2 Aug 30, 2013

    "Yeah, OK. You go ahead and try to spin that one!!!"- until he doesn't do his job, as elected to do, we have to take him at his word that he will indeed do his job. That's not spin, it's just how it is. He hasn't had a test of his job yet- and until such time, I'll reserve chastising him and take him at his word. Can't beat someone up over something they haven't done yet now can we?

  • corey3rd2 Aug 30, 2013

    Children shouldn't be on Facebook without their parents supervising who their Friends are and who they're communicating with. PERIOD!!!

    Spoken like a person without children and no memory of what they were like as a teenager.

  • stymieindurham Aug 30, 2013

    " . . . what he said was he doesn't agree with the new laws, but since it's his JOB to defend them, he will."
    ============================================================
    ====

    Yeah, OK. You go ahead and try to spin that one!!!

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Aug 30, 2013

    HeBlessesMe -

    "I hope you folks that agree with Cooper do realize that registered sex offenders looking to continue to prey on children are already on social media sites like Facebook, right? They use aliases to register for their Facebook page and "Catfish" all day."

    Children shouldn't be on Facebook without their parents supervising who their Friends are and who they're communicating with. PERIOD!!!

    "Some really are rehabilitated."

    California tried to rehabilitated child sex offenders for about a decade, and finally gave up, admitting it didn't work. They're simply attracted to children, like normal adults are attracted to adults.

More...