BUTTS COUNTY, Ga. (CBS Local) — A group of registered sex offenders in Georgia is suing the Butts County Sheriff’s Office for placing “Warning! No Trick-or-Treat at this address!!” signs in front of their homes to discourage trick-or-treaters ahead of Halloween.
The practice began last year after the cancellation of a local Halloween festival was expected to cause a “large increase” in door-to-door trick-or-treaters.
Butts County Sheriff Gary Long directed deputies to place the signs in the front yards of over 200 sex offenders registered in the county between Oct. 24 and Nov. 2.
“My office took precautions and placed signs indicating ‘No Trick or Treat’ at each registered sex offender’s residence in the county,” Long wrote in a Facebook post published Oct. 21. “This was done to ensure the safety of our children.
Butts County sex offenders file suit over sheriff's 'No trick-or-treat' signs https://t.co/5R6UmR6AaA
— 13WMAZ News (@13wmaznews) October 23, 2019
The sheriff’s office was planning to use the same tactic again this year, saying the signs follow Georgia law and keep kids safe. But three registered sex offenders have filed suit in U.S. District Court in Macon, arguing the signs are a violation of their rights to free speech and privacy.
“The law allows the sheriff to put a list of registered sex offenders at his office, at the courthouse, on the internet,” one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, Mark Yurachek, told WAGA. “It does not allow him to go door-to-door telling people you have a sex offender living next door to you.”
The case is set to be heard Oct. 24.
Regardless of the outcome, Long vows to do “everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this community.” v