LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court reversed its own ruling Friday and ordered charges dismissed against a Lincoln man for failing to report a change of address under the state's sex offender registry law.
Because of a miscalculation by the Nebraska State Patrol, Timothy Gaskill was one of 59 convicted sex offenders whose names were improperly returned to the registry in 2010 after their time on the list had expired.
In 1995, at the age of 18, Gaskill was convicted of attempted sexual assault. Under the state's original Sex Offender Registration Act, he was classified as a low risk to reoffend and his name and photo were not published on the patrol's website.
In addition, Gaskill's name was supposed to be removed from the patrol's internal registry 10 years after he completed his sentence, which would have been in 2007.
The Legislature amended the law in 2009, which did away with risk classifications and put convicted sex offenders on a public registry for 25 years to life.
Gaskill was among 59 sex offenders who were improperly placed on the registry, said Deb Collins, the patrol's spokeswoman. The new law was misapplied to those offenders and all were removed from the registry late last year.
By 2010, Gaskill was married with two children and was pursuing higher education. After his name, photo and address were added to the patrol's website, he and his family were evicted from their apartment.
After they found a new residence, Gaskill was contacted by authorities and charged with a felony for failing to report his new address.
Last summer, the Supreme Court dismissed Gaskill's first appeal, which challenged his placement on the registry on constitutional grounds.
On the second appeal, Gaskill raised the issue about his time on the registry having expired and the court found in his favor.
“Based upon the record now before us, it would be untenable for this court to permit Gaskill's conviction to stand. To do so would have an obvious prejudicial effect upon his substantial right in the presumption of innocence and would result in even greater damage to the integrity, reputation, and fairness of the judicial process,” the opinion stated.
The court reversed its prior ruling, wiped out his conviction and ordered the dismissal of the charge for failing to update his address.
Joshua Weir of Omaha, Gaskill's attorney, said the case made clear that anyone who had gotten off the registry before the new law took effect does not have to register again.
“He's very happy to put this behind him and not have that felony on his record,” Weir said of his client.
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