Wendy Whitaker faces Thanksgiving Day eviction

Wendy Whitaker, lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Georgia’s sex offender law, faces eviction from her home on Thanksgiving Day.

Whitaker, the subject of a cover story I wrote in July 2006 concerning the impact of Georgia’s harsh new sex-offender law, has been given notice by the Columbia County sheriff’s office that she’ll be removed from her house on Thanksgiving Day.

Lawyers for the Southern Center for Human Rights, which represents Whitaker’s constitutional challenge against the law, have filed for a Superior Court injunction to block her eviction. But they may be fighting an uphill battle; last week, a federal judge declined to grant a similar injunction.

Loyal readers will recall that Whitaker – who must register as a sex offender as a result of a consensual sex act when she was a teenager – was first ordered from her house in Harlem, Ga., two years ago when the home was discovered to be within 1,000 feet of a church-based child-care facility.

“Forcing Wendy Whitaker from her home is both pointless and cruel,” said Sarah Geraghty, Whitaker’s attorney. “Ms. Whitaker has never posed a threat to anyone and she does not belong on the sex offender registry.”

Why doesn’t she belong? The SCHR explains:

Wendy Whitaker’s offense happened 12 years ago, just after she had turned 17. The other student was three weeks short of his 16th birthday and they were both sophomores in high school. For this single act of consensual oral sex, Ms. Whitaker was arrested and charged with the crime of sodomy.

If Ms. Whitaker had committed the same act that led to her conviction today, she would not have to register as a sex offender at all. Because it occurred in 1996, she must register as a sex offender for life, have her picture posted on the GBI website and comply with all sex-offender residence restrictions and other conditions that treat her as if she was a predator.

As we say in the news business, that’s F’ed up!