Friday, March 6, 2015

Graham Co. NC Sheriff Danny MilSAPs tells RSOs if they want to go to church, do it at his jail

 This year, the Shiitake Awards needs a new category just for law enforcement agents who go above and beyond the call of duty in their quest for sex offender legal stupidity. I call it the "Keystone Cop of the Year."

Our first candidate for Keystone Cop of the Year is Sheriff Danny Milsaps of Graham County, NC. He recently sent out a letter to all Registered Citizens in his county barring them from attending church. But he took it to the next level, and told registrants if they want to attend church, go to jail to attend services.

It does pose an interesting question-- who will be giving these special services? Will this Sheriff be providing Catholic Mass, Ramadan festivals, Black Masses for Satanists, Festivus events, or even Nation of Islam meetings? I'd personally love to see Sheriff Milsaps sitting in on an NOI sermon discussing the "white devil."

Below is the actual letter the Sheriff sent out:

Sheriff bans sex offenders from church
Jon Ostendorff, USA TODAY 6:35 p.m. EST March 6, 2015

ROBBINSVILLE, N.C. — A sheriff in one of North Carolina's smallest counties told registered sex offenders they can't go to church, citing a state law meant to keep them from day-care centers and schools.

Graham County Sheriff Danny Millsaps told sex offenders about his decision Feb. 17, according to a letter the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times obtained Friday. About 9,000 people live in Graham County, which abuts Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee line in far western North Carolina.

"This is an effort to protect the citizens and children of the community of Graham (County)," he wrote. "I cannot let one sex offender go to church and not let all registered sex offenders go to church."

He invited them to attend services at the county jail.

In an interview Friday, Millsaps said he may have made a mistake when he wrote that offenders "are not permitted to attend church services."

He said he understands the Constitution gives everyone the right to religious freedom. But he said he's standing by his take on North Carolina law blocking offenders from places where children are present.

"I understand I can't keep them from going to church," he said. "That may have been misunderstood. I'll be the first one to say I might have made mistakes in the wording of that letter."

Millsaps has no immediate plans to arrest a sex offender should one of the 20 in his county attend church Sunday, he said.

Graham County Manager Greg Cable said the county attorney is looking into the matter and any legal mistakes would be corrected.

At the Citizen-Times' request, the American Civil Liberties Union in Raleigh is reviewing Millsaps' letter. The newspaper also sent a copy to the North Carolina Department of Justice for an opinion on the law.

Neither responded immediately.

Other North Carolina counties have dealt with the same issue:

• In Chatham County, deputies in 2009 arrested a sex offender for attending church, citing the same law. A state Superior Court judge eventually ruled the law as applied to churches was unconstitutional.

• In Buncombe County, sex offenders are permitted in church as long as pastors know and are in agreement, Sheriff Van Duncan said.

That's similar to the county's policy for allowing sex offenders at school events like ball games. They are allowed as long as school administrators have warning, and the offenders are monitored to some extent, the sheriff said.

The law allows schools to do this, a factor the judge noted in 2009 in the Chatham County case.

If a sex offender threatens a child at a church or school event, Duncan said the law can be enforced and used to ban the offender.

Church leaders in Buncombe County, where Asheville is located, generally want to minister to sex offenders, he said.

The law applies to public, private and church schools that have weekday classes. Sex offenders generally are banned from school property.


  1. Will he have something for those who worship on the seventh day, Saturday? Can the registrants spouses attend?

  2. And this bonehead is a sheriff? (Any relation to Shady Grady?) Says he understands the 1st amendment yet limits where registrants can practice it. Its the "Jim Crow" era again!