Man Fights to Get Off Sex Offender Registry for Consensual Teen Sex with Woman He Since Married

Convicted twenty years ago for having sex with a 17-year-old when he was 19


Justice is supposed to be blind, not stupid.
Credit: walknboston / Foter.com / CC BY

When Lonny Leon Rivera was 19, in 1989, he had sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend in California. He got busted, pleaded guilty to "oral copulation with a minor," and that required him to register as a sex offender forever in the state.

Subsequently, Rivera married the woman and they remain together to this day. However, California treats him as though he's a danger to his community. Attorney General Kamala Harris is going after him for failing to keep his sex offender information up to date. He is petitioning to get off the list. From Courthouse News:

In his petition for writ of mandate, Rivera claims that the state's demand is unconstitutional.

"Rivera's inclusion in the sex offender registry under the mandatory provisions of the California Sex Offender Registration Act violates his right to equal protection of the laws, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 7 of the California Constitution," Rivera says in the petition, citing a 2006 ruling by the California Supreme Court in People v. Hofsheier.

"He is entitled to this court vacating its order of July 25, 1989 ordering Rivera to register as a sex offender. He is further entitled to an order directing the California Department of Justice to terminate him from the Sex Offender Tracking Program."

In the ruling cited, Courthouse News notes, a judge determined that California's sexual registry guidelines didn't operate consistently. If Rivera had been convicted of statutory rape instead, he wouldn't have been required to register. The judge ruled this was a constitutional violation, but the state took years to figure out what to do about it. Ultimately the state decided that guys who want to get off the list have to petition the court themselves to be removed. Rivera said he expects Harris to fight his removal from the list regardless of the foolishness of putting him on it in the first place.

Below, Reason TV reported on a similar case in California in 2012: