A Siouxland Man, Aaron Heaton who was arrested in early 2018 for violating terms of the sex offender registry when he was present at East Middle School athletic events without permission was in court recently to ask a judge to remove him from the sex offender registry.
Heaton presented numerous written affidavits and in-person testimony from character witnesses testifying that he is a changed person and does not warrant the lifetime sex offender registry status that was agreed to in a 1999 plea where he plead guilty to 3 counts of assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse.
The charges and conviction stem from incidents where according to court documents and testimony 14-year-old Heaton on multiple occasions performed sex acts on a 7-year-old female he was babysitting.
Heaton's witnesses, including friends, family, and his wife testified that in the many years they have known him he is an honest, hardworking, church-going family man who has not reoffended and has never given any of them a reason to believe he is the same person he was more than 25 years ago. Heaton's defense said that he had taken responsibility for his actions and that it's a constant struggle for him to overcome the stigma the sex offender registry brings. Even so, he has a family, friends, a good job, and a home in a nice neighborhood.
The State argued that while there is no evidence that Heaton has reoffended or that he will, he's still categorized as a "low" likely hood that he will re-offend and the sex offender registry status is vital to allow offenders to reintegrate into society while still allowing the communities they live in information about their past offense. The State also provided information about a 2007 Guilty Plea of Simple Assault and Public Intoxication after Heaton struck a female in the face when she refused to let him into Teasers Gentleman's Club.
The state also had numerous written letters to the court from those opposed to his removal from the registry, this included his neighbors and phone testimony from the victim where she detailed the events that took place and the ongoing trauma she lives through because of it.
The state said that although Heaton accepted responsibility in his plea in 1999, it's apparent in his years of sex offender registry paperwork, what he tells his friends and family and even testified in court that he continues to minimize his offense and has not fully taken responsibility.
While Judge Cord said he plans to make a ruling in the coming weeks, those in support of his removal hope they can finally put this behind them and he can be removed and those opposed want for him to remain on the registry to help ensure the community is aware of his past and he like his victim continues to be reminded of his actions.