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2 Seek To Avoid Sex Offender Listings

November 13, 2000 Florida:

Two young deaf men who pleaded no contest to charges of statutory rape are asking a Broward County judge to spare them from registering as sex offenders.

Their attorneys argue that it is overly harsh to brand Julio Calderon and Nikosan Keller as sex offenders. They also say that the law violates the Americans With Disabilities Act and pays no heed to the unique problems that some deaf people face.

They want Circuit Judge Susan Lebow to find that it would be unconstitutional and unfair to make the men register because of the circumstances of their crimes and the effect that registering would have on them.

"Julio and Niko are not the type of people that the legislature is attempting to protect the public from," said Charlie Kaplan, Calderon's attorney. "Labeling an already disabled person serves to only isolate and often vilify them."

But prosecutors and the state Department of Corrections say the two men should not get special treatment because of their disability.

"They have the right to be treated the same way as every other sex offender in Florida," said prosecutor Janine Nixon.

Calderon, 24, and Keller, 23, both pleaded no contest to having consensual intercourse with 15-year-old girls who are also deaf. The girls were under the age where they could legally give consent to sexual contact.

The men were put on probation for six years and adjudication was withheld. The two men, who look younger than their ages, were dating the girls at the time.

When Calderon's former girlfriend was asked during a deposition why they did not use contraception when they had sex, she replied that it was because they wanted to have babies. ..Source.. by PAULA McMAHON Staff Writer

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