The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled against a Des Moines man in a case challenging the state’s law restricting where sex offenders can live. Floyd Wright was convicted of statutory rape in 1977 and completed his jail time for the offense.
When the building Wright lived in was sold and he was forced to move, he chose a new place, but his parole officer said his status as a sex offender prohibited him from moving to the new location because it was within 2,000 feet of a facility protected under the state’s sex offender law.
Wright filed suit arguing the living restrictions didn’t apply to him as he was never required to register as a sex offender since his statutory rape conviction happened before the sex offender registry law took effect in 1995. Wright also argued the 2,000 foot law violated his constitutional rights to find a reasonable place to live.
The district court ruled against Wright, saying the language of the law unambiguously applied to all sex offenders, not just those who were registered. And the district court rejected Wright’s constitutional challenges, based on a previous Supreme Court case on that issue.
The Iowa Supreme Court upheld the district court’s ruling, saying the Iowa Legislature clearly intended the sex offender provisions to include all sex offenders, not just those who were registered. The High Court also rejected Wright’s arguments that his constitutional rights were violated by the law, saying while Des Moines and communities around the city impose residency restrictions on sex offenders, Wright is still free to engage in most community activities and free to live in areas not covered by the residency restrictions.