A man who grabbed a 14-year-old girl’s arm to chastise her after she walked in front of his car, causing him to swerve to avoid hitting her, must register as a “sex offender,” the Appellate Court of Illinois has ruled.
Fitzroy Barnaby, a 28-year-old Evanston, Illinois, man was prosecuted for attempted kidnapping and child abduction charges following a November 2002 incident in which he nearly hit the teen with his vehicle.
The girl testified Barnaby yelled, “Come here, little girl,” when he jumped out of his car and grabbed her arm. She broke away and called authorities. Barnaby says he was merely trying to lecture her for her carelessness.
The trial jury accepted Barnaby’s version of the story, but found him guilty of unlawful restraint of a minor – a sex offense under Illinois law.
As a convicted sex offender, Barnaby is required to be listed on the state’s sex offender registry and must keep authorities informed of his place of residency. He also isn’t allowed to live near schools or parks. The Illinois Sex Offender Information website, operated by the Illinois State Police, lists those in the registry, along with their photographs and home addresses.
Trial Judge Patrick Morse ordered registration reluctantly, acknowledging it was “more likely than not” Barnaby only intended to chastise the girl. “I don’t really see the purpose of registration in this case. I really don’t,” Morse said. “But I feel that I am constrained by the statute.”
Barnaby was not listed on the registry during his appeal, but following the recent ruling by the appellate court, he soon will be.
“This is the most stupid ruling the appellate court has rendered in years,” Frederick Cohn, Barnaby’s attorney, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “If you see a 15-year-old beating up your 8-year-old and you grab that kid’s hand and are found guilty of unlawful restraint, do you now have to register as a sex offender?”
The appellate court agreed it was “unfair for [Barnaby] to suffer the stigmatization of being labeled a sex offender when his crime was not sexually motivated,” however it sided with the state’s attorney who argued it is “the proclivity of offenders who restrain children to also commit sex acts or other crimes against them.”
“It is [Barnaby's] actions which have caused him to be stigmatized, not the courts,” reads the decision.