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Sex Offense against Minor Requires Registration

The Eleventh Circuit Court Appeals affirmed a sentence that required a defendant convicted of five misdemeanor counts of willfully depriving individuals of their right to be free from unreasonable searches by one acting under color of law to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

The appeal was brought by John Pilati, who was convicted on all counts by an Alabama federal jury held before a Magistrate Judge. According to the Presentence Investigation Report (PSI), Pilati conducted drug tests on the individuals named in the indictment, and he fondled their genitalia while administering the tests. At the time of the offenses, one of the victims was 17.

Neither Pilati or the government objected to the PSI age statement. At sentencing, Pilati received 42 months imprisonment and one year of supervised release. A special condition of the supervised release ordered Pilati to register as a sex offender within three days of his release.

Pilati appealed to the district court, arguing there was no proof of the victim’s age and that SORNA requires the jury to make a finding of the victim’s age. The district court affirmed, holding that at sentencing Pilati did no raise the age issue, he only argued he had not been convicted of a sexual offense to qualify for SORNA sanctions.

The Eleventh Circuit held Pilati waived his argument of the victim’s age, for where a “defendant fails to object to statements in the PSI despite several opportunities to do so, a defendant is deemed to have admitted those facts.”

SORNA defines the term “sex offender” as anyone who has committed a specific offense against a minor, which incorporates any conduct by its nature is a sex offense against a minor. See: 42 U.S.C. § 16911.

The PSI specified the victim was 17 when Pilati “stroked A.Y.’s testicles, concentrating on the area between his penis and testicles,” and “then held A.Y.’s penis while he urinated in the cup.” As such, the Eleventh Circuit held that even if it found the issue was not waived, Pilati had engaged in conduct that “by its nature [was] a sex offense against a minor.”

The district court’s order was affirmed. See: United States v. Pilati, 627 F.3d 1360 (11th Cir. 2010).

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Related legal case

United States v. Pilati