One week after registrants in Indiana were victorious in a legal challenge to compelled sex offender treatment classes, they were handed another victory in being able to attend churches.
The Indiana Court of Appeals ordered a trial court to grant a permanent injunction barring the state from arresting sex offenders for attending churches that hold Sunday schools or offer child care.
The law considered Churches that hold Sunday school or offer child care to be “school property” and therefore off limits to registered sex offenders. The statute says “school property” is a federal, state or local or nonprofit program or service operated for children who are at least 3 years of age and not yet enrolled in kindergarten.
The appellate court, concluded that the churches were not “school property” because state statute does not say that churches or anything related to religious instruction is “school property.” “If our legislature intended for churches offering Sunday school or other religious instruction to children to qualify as ‘school property,’ thereby prohibiting serious sex offenders from entering that property, it could have clearly sought to do so,” wrote Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Margret Robb in Tuesday’s ruling.
As a side note, don’t be surprised if the Indiana Legislature seeks to pass new laws including churches, in which case; don’t be surprised to see this issue back in a courtroom.
In the mean time, sex offenders in Indiana are free to practice their religion by attending church services.