The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

April 1, 2013

State: Dismiss Megan’s law case

Man challenging retroactive registration rule

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

GREENVILLE — The state Attorney General’s Office, representing the state and state police, have asked a local judge to dismiss a suit filed by a Greenville man who is challenging the retroactive application of Megan’s Law registration requirements.

Shawn C. Lucas, 29, of 24 Main St., pleaded guilty to statutory sexual assault for having sex with a girl who was 14 and 15 when the offenses occurred in 2009 and 2010.

What is significant about his sentence in terms of the suit is he was ordered to abide by more-stringent reporting requirements, which were not in place when the crimes he committed occurred.

Lucas is arguing the update of Megan’s Law, which went into effect late last year, law violates U.S. and state constitutions by imposing legal consequences for actions that occurred before the law was enacted.

The defendants have filed preliminary objections seeking to have the have the suit dismissed.

They said Mercer County Common Pleas Court, where the suit was filed Feb. 22, does not have jurisdiction.

“(T)he Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has original and exclusive jurisdiction over requests for equitable relief against the Commonwealth government,” the defendants said.

The defendants also argued the state Attorney General’s Office was not properly served with a copy of the suit as the agent for the commonwealth.

Finally, the defendants argued the state of Pennsylvania is immune to the suit unless certain factors specified by the General Assembly are in place, and those factors are not present in Lucas’ suit.

A local judge will rule on the objections.

Lucas’ lawsuit claims that one of the reasons he pleaded guilty was that he wouldn’t have to register as a sex offender under the law as it existed.

“Had a law been in effect at the time of the guilty plea requiring (Lucas) to register for Megan’s Law, a different result would have been pursued,” the suit said.

He was sentenced to less than two years in county jail and ordered to serve 18 months’ probation.