The Georgia Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on Monday in the appeal of a former Rome police officer who is challenging his status as a sex offender.

Paul Wiggins Jr., a former Rome police officer, is appealing a Floyd County court ruling denying his motion to strike the registration requirement and correct his “illegal sentence.”

Wiggins’ attorney, Mark Yurachek, argues that the state’s sex offender registry law is “unconstitutionally vague” because it fails to define key terms, including “sexual offender.”

In 2003, Wiggins was convicted of cruelty to children and violating his oath of office. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was acquitted of raping the teen.

State law includes in the definition of a sexual offense a number of crimes, but cruelty to children is not one of them. Wiggins claims the requirement that he register as a sex offender violates his constitutional rights, because the lifelong punishment exceeds the maximum sentence he could have received for the crimes he was convicted of.

The State, represented by Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson, argues this appeal should be dismissed. Wiggins raised the same arguments in his habeas petition, which the state Supreme Court already denied.

“Appellant has already had his bite at the habeas apple,” the State argues in briefs. The trial court made the correct ruling. Georgia law includes in the list of crimes requiring registration, “any conduct which, by its nature, is a sexual offense against a minor.”

The hearing is set for 2 p.m. Monday.

Rome News Tribune