WEST CHESTER >> A Common Pleas Court judge has ruled that a Chester County man convicted of forcing himself sexually on a sleeping woman will not have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
In an order signed July 10, Judge Anthony Sarcione found that the law that defendant George Torsilieri was required to report to state police as a sex offender was unconstitutional. He said the law, the Sexual Offenders Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), violated the fundamental right to reputation under the state Constitution, as well as federal guarantees of due process.
The ruling came on the motion of Torsilieri’s attorney, Marnie Snyder of Philadelphia. She had argued that the SORNA requirements added an undue secondary punishment on her client, a young bio-medical engineer who had no prior record before his arrest in 2015 for attacking the woman.
Snyder had said in a motion to preclude Torsilieri from having to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life that the SORNA statute, “constitutes criminal punishment” without a chance to challenge its imposition.
Sarcione’s decision follows another decision in June by Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter, overturning the registration requirements. The state Supreme Court had ruled earlier that the first version of the state’s SORNA law had become so onerous that it was unconstitutional. A new version signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf is having little success in standing up to judicial scrutiny.
The June 22 ruling by Judge Carpenter was hailed by defense attorney John McMahon Jr., who represented a man who had been previously sentenced to prison and registration in 1997 for a sexual offense.
“Judge Carpenter wholly agreed with our argument, that notwithstanding certain less onerous yearly registration provisions of the new ‘SORNA’ and the opportunity for a lifetime registrant to petition to terminate the registration requirements after 25 years, the longer, the retroactive registration requirements and other provisions were still punitive, severable and unconstitutional,” McMahon said in a statement.
“It appears likely that the ‘SORNA’ related litigation will not end soon as thousands of previously convicted sexual offenders are greatly impacted by this unconstitutional Pennsylvania statute that has been repeatedly and unsuccessfully revised to try and pass constitutional muster for over a decade,” the veteran defense attorney said.