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Castille, C.J., Saylor, Eakin, Baer, Todd, Mccaffery, Orie Melvin v. Patrick John Gehris

September 27, 2012

CASTILLE, C.J., SAYLOR, EAKIN, BAER, TODD, MCCAFFERY, ORIE MELVIN, JJ. COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE
v.
PATRICK JOHN GEHRIS, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court entered March 26, 2010 at No. 1960 WDA 2008, affirming the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County entered August 27, 2008 at CP-10-CR-0000477-2007.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Madame Justice Todd

ARGUED: October 18, 2011

OPINION IN SUPPORT OF AFFIRMANCE

Although the Opinion in Support of Reversal ("OISR") offers a reasoned, plausible, policy-based rationale for interpreting 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9795.1(b)(1) as reflecting a recidivist philosophy, I nevertheless believe we are constrained by the clear and unambiguous language chosen by the legislature in enacting this statutory provision to impose the lifetime registration requirement on Appellant under the particular factual circumstances presented by this case. As a result, respectfully, I would affirm the lower courts.

This is a case of a 42-year-old man who deliberately and repeatedly engaged in communications of an explicit sexual nature regarding an individual whom he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. In these conversations, he graphically detailed his fantasies of having sexual encounters with a young girl, solicited nude pictures of the person he thought was the 13-year-old girl, mailed a digital camera with a picture of his penis loaded therein to the person he thought was the 13-year-old girl, methodically arranged a meeting with the person he believed to be the 13-year-old girl at a motel room over 200 miles away from his home, and drove continuously for an entire day specifically to have sex in the motel room with both the person he thought was the 13-year-old girl, and the person whom he believed to be her 19-year-old friend - known to him by the internet chatroom appellation of "joeyGalPa".

For these activities, Appellant was charged in a six-count criminal information with the following offenses, each of which was based on specific aspects of his conduct over the four-month period from October 2006 to February 2007: (1) unlawful contact with a minor for the purposes of engaging in involuntary deviate sexual intercourse*fn1 (for arranging the meeting at the motel with the undercover state police officer posing as the 13-year-old child); (2) unlawful contact with a minor for the purpose of engaging in sexual abuse of children*fn2 (for requesting nude photographs from the officer posing as the 13-year-old child); (3) criminal solicitation for the sexual exploitation of children*fn3 (for soliciting "joeyGalPa" to procure the 13-year-old child for sexual exploitation); (4) criminal solicitation for the sexual abuse of children*fn4 (for soliciting "joeyGalPa" to obtain nude photographs of a 13-year-old child); (5) criminal solicitation for the corruption of the morals of a minor*fn5 (for soliciting "joeyGalPa" to obtain a 13-year-old child for sexual activity) and (6) criminal attempt to corrupt the morals of a minor*fn6 (for his act of driving to the motel to engage in the planned encounter). Appellant elected to plead guilty to counts 3 through 6.

Since Appellant pled guilty to both criminal solicitation for the sexual exploitation of children and criminal solicitation for the sexual abuse of children, the trial court found that Appellant was subject to lifetime registration with the Pennsylvania State Police under subsection (b)(1) of the version of 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9795.1 in effect on August 27, 2008 - the date of his sentencing - on which he was informed by the judge of this registration requirement.*fn7 This statutory section provided:

(a) Ten-year registration.--The following individuals shall be required to register with the Pennsylvania State Police for a period of ten years:

(1) Individuals convicted of any of the following offenses:

18 Pa.C.S. § 6312 (relating to sexual abuse of children). 18 Pa.C.S. § 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with minor).

18 Pa.C.S. § 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of children).

(2) Individuals convicted of an attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the offenses under paragraph (1) or subsection (b)(2).

(b) Lifetime registration.--The following individuals shall be subject to lifetime registration:

(1) An individual with two or more convictions of any of the offenses set ...


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