- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - An attorney for a troubled and developmentally delayed teenager accused of attempting to rape his adoptive sister argued to the Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday that he unfairly faces being listed on the adult sexual offender registry.

The case centers on a St. Louis boy born already exposed to crack cocaine who spent most of his life in foster care and has been diagnosed with several mental disorders, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (https://bit.ly/1N2hkiH ). It could have broader implications for some youths who are required to publicly register as sex offenders as adults.

The boy in 2014 reportedly choked, beat and sexually assaulted his 41-year-old adoptive sister, who is described as shorter and lighter than him in court documents. He was adjudicated of attempted rape in the first degree and ordered to be listed on the state’s juvenile sex offender registry.

That registry is private and maintained by county juvenile offices, and most youths listed are removed at age 21.

But those 14 and older who are convicted of some serious crimes are required by state law to register on the adult list, which is public.

The boy’s lawyer, Patricia Harrison, argued that’s unfair and violates both the Missouri and U.S. constitutions by imposing an adult penalty in a juvenile case. She also said it’s cruel and unusual punishment, and removes a juvenile court judge’s discretion.

“The statute requires he be placed on that registry regardless of whether the juvenile judge felt that was appropriate,” Harrison said of the boy’s potential placement on the adult listing.

The attorney general’s office is representing the state and wants the case dismissed. In documents filed in response to the appeal by the teen’s attorneys, the state argued the boy hasn’t been harmed by the juvenile court judge’s decision - which technically didn’t order him to register as an adult - because he hasn’t yet been added to the adult registry.

Missouri’s laws on when juvenile sex offenders must be reported as adults are almost identical to federal laws, state attorneys say, and publicly reporting young offenders is meant to protect other children and not as a punishment.

It’s unclear when the Supreme Court will rule on the case.

___

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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