Illinois

A Mom Gets in Trouble for Being a Sex Offender Even Though She Wasn't Convicted of a Sex Crime

When Tessah Mitchell attempted to register her children for day care, a crime from 18 years ago caught up with her.

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|||Andrey Burmakin/Dreamstime.com
Andrey Burmakin/Dreamstime.com

An Illinois mother's attempt to put her children in day care revealed some unintended consequences of sex offender registries.

In 2000, an 18-year-old Tessah Mitchell kidnapped a baby from the hospital after suffering a miscarriage. She was charged with aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to 13 years in prison. She was also classified as a child sex offender at her sentencing, despite protestations from her lawyers. Though her offense was not sexual in nature, the list also includes people charged with kidnapping or attempting kidnapping.

Mitchell appealed her status in 2011, asking to be placed on the violent offender against youth registry instead. In a handwritten motion, Mitchell explained that her status as a sex offender was "disrupting" her employment. The motion was stricken when former Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes said that the court did not have jurisdiction.

The status only led to more trouble when, in 2016, Mitchell attempted to register her children at a day care. The conditions of the Illinois Sex Offender registry state that those on the list are prohibited from being on or near a school property, and so staff at the KinderCare contacted the police.

Will County Assistant State's Attorney John Rickmon pursued new charges against Mitchell, who was not apprehended until September. The arrest warrant charged her with being in a school zone, giving a false phone number to police, and failing to inform police about a change in her employment address. Her bond was set at $150,000.

While there is no excuse for kidnapping, there is also no justification for putting people who committed nonsexual crimes on a sex offender registry. There is no reason for Mitchell to carry the burden of being on such a list, nor should she be treated as though she is maliciously seeking child victims.

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  1. “Mitchell appealed her status in 2011, asking to be placed on the violent offender against youth registry instead” of the sex offender list –

    WTF? In what screwed up world is it *better* to be on a violent offender against youth registry than on a sex offender registry?

    1. Sex is bad, violence is ok, doncha watch TV?

    2. Good point. You could get on the sex offender registry, depending on the state, for getting caught sneaking into a corner for a thrill-seeking quickie to reinvigorate your marriage, having sex as a minor with a minor girlfriend, taking a picture of your own dick as a minor (this is actually a very serious crime in and of itself), taking a leak in public, streaking your high school homecoming (in a particularly sad case, a local ADA monster drove a kindhearted, goofy, popular and beloved boy to suicide with this threat), etc. All making you a horrible danger to children of course.

      There are many problems with these registries. One, all “administrative” losses of freedom are bullshit. Two, letting someone out of prison and saddling but impeding their integration into society is counterproductive. Three, most offenders are not particularly high risk. Four, certainly not a special one to children in most cases. And so forth.

      This case is heavily about broad “sex offender” (above all else) histrionics. If it ever were either wise or legitimate to let someone out of prison and impose administrative disabilities on them in this fashion, I think baby kidnapping would be a much more relevant offense than most of what are called sex crimes.

  2. This is getting absurd. So a person on a sex offender registry can’t go near a school. How is this person supposed to drop off and pick up his/her own kids from school?

    1. Next on the hit parade? “Sex offenders” will be sterilized, so as to NOT be able to have children! As always, a problem caused by a Government Almighty program (not being able to work and have someone else take care of your kids from time to time) will be “solved” by a new Government Almighty program (preventing “sex abusers” from having kids in the first place).

      And yes, of course the 18-year-old having consensual sex with a 17.5-year-old will continue to be a “sex offense”.

      Welcome to the “logic” of your Government Almighty Overlords!

      1. In dependency court I once had a client (mother) who had been a sex offender, who had a child. That was all well and good, but then she took up with a man who (unbeknownst to her) also was historically a sex offender and an RSO, so DCFS removed the child. We ended up with the mom getting the child back but with an iron prohibition against the man (whom she had married) ever being within 1000(!) yards of her or the child. Have no idea how it worked out since I left the field shortly thereafter.

    2. Teenagers that sext each other should take advantage of this loophole.

    3. Not only that, but how can the kids register for school to begin w if they have no other custodial parent? Do they have to become emancipated? Do they take it by mail?

  3. How does this make us feel about Government Almighty control of child-care facilities? And about the ever-more-intrusive growth of Government Almighty, as is NOT accompanied by growth in the common sense of the regulators and other employees of Government Almighty?

    When is the last time that a Government Almighty employee was punished for lack of common sense, in rigidly following stupid rules? In private employment, if I shit on the customer by following the rules too rigidly, I get fired eventually. NOT the case with idiots in the employ of Government Almighty!!!!

    1. Common sense and thinking is not allowed for government employees.

    2. Your complaint has been noted and your IP address has been placed on the appropriate lists and/or registries.

      If you would also like to ensure that no one associated with this IP address can obtain a firearm permit in the next 3 years, please make sure to mention the 2ND AMENDMENT and use the phrase COLD DEAD HANDS in a response to this posting. Allow 6-8 weeks for a friendly visit from an agent of your local FBI office.

      As always, we appreciate your self-identification as a potential threat by ranting against properly authorized and implemented administrative rules.

      Sincerely,

      Your NSA, DHS, and cooperating state agencies.

      1. Fuckers in New York want a 3-year look-back on Social Media for firearms permits.

    3. In private employment, if I shit on the customer by following the rules too rigidly, I get fired eventually. NOT the case with idiots in the employ of Government Almighty!!!!

      No only will they not be fired, they’ll probably be named employee of the month.

  4. I don’t know, I think in this case it makes sense. More than a person who sends a nekkid photo, I’d be worriedb about someone who had actually kidnapped a baby.

    But for someone with kids, it is pretty stupid to have a no fly zone. Day care should be aware, but no prohibit her.

    Plenty of better examples of the stupidity of the system.

    1. She served her time and paid her debt to society. Lists are stupid.

      1. Give us all your reasons for why lists are stupid.

      2. She served her time.
        The debt of her crime can never be paid.

    2. , I’d be worriedb about someone who had actually kidnapped a baby.

      In 2000, an 18-year-old Tessah Mitchell kidnapped a baby from the hospital after suffering a miscarriage.

      in 2016, Mitchell attempted to register her children at a day care

      Way to ignore the context, shithead.

    3. But for someone with kids, it is pretty stupid to have a no fly zone. Day care should be aware, but no prohibit her.

      Plenty of better examples of the stupidity of the system.

      Daycare was aware, they notified the police/Asst. State’s Atty. and it’s not clear whether they prohibited her from being near their center or not.

      There may be better examples of the stupidity of the system, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t one. Arresting someone for not committing a crime is pretty stupid.

      1. “and it’s not clear whether they prohibited her”

        ‘they’ being the daycare.

    4. “Let’s keep person who kidnapped a baby away from other people’s kids.”

      Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

  5. Our criminal justice system is broken beyond belief.

    Part of this is that these sexual offender registries are unconstitutional.

    There is nothing in the US Constitution or any state constitution that allows for persons not under state custody to be banned from being near a school, living near a school, or having to give police a bunch of personal information.

    1. The [civil] sex offender registry is an effective double secret punishment.

  6. And again, how about not using someone who thinks that being on the “violent offender against youth registry” (which has similar prohibitions vis a vis children) is better than being on the sex offender registry as an example of the stupid system.

    Why is it so hard for you to find people who didn’t steal someone’s newborn baby out of a hospital nursery? Someone who might look sympathetic?

    The girl who got busted for flashing her boobs at the wrong cop on Spring Break. Teen ‘sexting’ offenders. A guy on the registry for pissing in the park. THESE are sympathetic. The girl whose story sounds like the beginning of a really creepy movie isn’t.

    1. It’s bad enough that I got a pissing in public ticket 20 years for taking a drunken whiz in a bar’s parking lot. But it was the correct decade to have that happen to me.

    2. It’s the unsympathetic cases you have to fight for. There’s no need to fight for the free speech rights for the guy shouting that Nazis are the worst people ever. You have to fight for the gal who screams Nazis are good, because the rights you care about are somewhere in between.

      1. Different thing entirely.

        Not wrong, not at all–but inapplicable here.

  7. There are bigger outrages than keeping Mitchell away from day cares, given that she has a documented track record of kidnapping a stranger’s baby.

    Given the circumstances, I do agree that she probably isn’t much of a risk to repeat the crime. I would have preferred that she simply be warned to stay away, instead of being prosecuted. She’s obviously much less of a risk at age 34 than she was at age 18. I feel the registries would be much improved if there were a way for people to be removed from them after, say, ten years of not getting into any further trouble. That would help address the stupid teen sexting cases too.

    1. If we’re still worried about her doing such, she should t have been released from prison.

  8. In 2000, an 18-year-old Tessah Mitchell kidnapped a baby from the hospital after suffering a miscarriage. She was charged with aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to 13 years in prison. She was also classified as a child sex offender at her sentencing, despite protestations from her lawyers. Though her offense was not sexual in nature, the list also includes people charged with kidnapping or attempting kidnapping.

    I’m assuming the “logic” here is based on a default assumption that anyone kidnapping a baby intends to either rape it or sell it into a life of sex slavery, similar to that documentary, Taken. Because – I assume – the people who made the rules for what goes on the list couldn’t conceive of any other reason why someone might kidnap a baby other than to have sex with it, which probably says way more about their fucked up, twisted mind than I even want to consider.

    1. Yes, I agree!

      Pregnancy makes women go all hormonal… She had lost her own baby, mothering instincts took over, and she did something stupid. Hormones drove her that crazy to take care of a baby, basically. 16 years later, she has her own kids, and presumably more “wisdom of aging”.

      WHERE is the common-sense element of “forgiveness” that is needed, to tamp down the worst excessive of punitive “justice” here?

      1. It is gone.

  9. The only time I ever came close to kidnapping was when I helped my friend and his common law wife move to prevent child protective services from taking their newborn infant. Does it count as kidnapping if both biological parents are in the car with you and they asked you for the help?

  10. You know who else?

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