Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Action Item: Virginia Code Needs to be Amended so RSO’s Can Legally Attend Church in Virginia Because as of Today the State Won’t Say if It’s Legal or Not

Back on May 25th I posted about the Virginia AG Opinion that the AG’s Office decided to decline/ignore. 

Can Virginia’s 22,500+ Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s) can attend church if there is a daycare and/or school on the property? 

The two Virginia statutes in question in this matter are:
§ 18.2-370.5. - Sex offenses prohibiting entry onto school or other property
§ 18.2-370.2. - Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children on School and Daycare Property 

So I contacted a former VA Attorney General to ask if I have any options to get an answer and I was told that the VA statute say the AG ‘shall’ give his advice, NOT ‘may’. But if the AG’s office convinces the submitter of the AG Opinion not to ‘push’ for an answer or as I like to say “not to rock the boat because the answer could be legally detrimental to the State” then the submission just disappears. 

Well it turns out there were two submitters of this AG Opinion a Delegate in July 2015 (who never told me he submitted it or that it was declined) and the Senator I’ve been tracking from August. After mu conversation with the former VA AG, I asked them both last Thursday via voicemail or email if they are willing to push the V AG for an answer, neither has responded to me. 

Remember per Virginia law § 2.2-505 , citizens can not submit requests for an A.G. Opinion but Virginia Legislators, the Governor, a constitutional officer, or the head of a state agency can. 

Virginia Legislators wrote the two statutes above, did they intend to prohibit RSO’s from worshiping or not? 

The Virginia State Police enforces the two statutes above, will they arrest an RSO for attending church or not? When RSO’s ask them about it they’ve told the RSO’s “to go read the statute” and they’ve told me “the VSP doesn’t give legal advice” 

So I went to the Virginia Attorney General through the only avenue I have an AG Opinion. The Virginia Attorney General is the legal adviser of our laws with the responsibility to interpret existing law for law enforcement and our Commonwealths’ Attorneys (Prosecutors) and they refuse to state if an RSO attending church is a violation of Virginia law or not 

Virginia has 2 laws on their books that not only….could be denying some of our citizens their freedom to worship but could result in a felony conviction, that’s a problem 

Everyone who has the ability to answer this question has willfully ignored it, that’s a problem. 

So what can be done? 

Virginia law MUST be amended. 

§ 18.2-370.5. and § 18.2-370.2. both need an exemption for places of worship and it needs to be done at the next Virginia General Assembly session in January 2017. 

Please contact:
  1. The Virginia AG’s Office, ask them to do their job and answer the August 18, 2015 AG Opinion submission, Can RSO’s worship if there is a daycare and/or school on the property?
  2. The Virginia ACLU and ask them to step in with their resources to find out if Virginia’s RSO’s can legally worship (or not) in Virginia.
  3. Your one Virginia Delegate and one Senator and ask them to patron legislation at the next 2017 Virginia General Assembly session adding text to the two Virginia statutes in question with an exemption for all places of worship.
Mary Devoy