In July 2008, sheriff’s deputies in Cobb County, Georgia arrested 54-year-old Leonard Swanagan on charges of failing to register as a convicted sex offender and living within 1,000 feet of a public swimming pool.
Swanagan contended that he was not required to register, but in July 2011, he was convicted in Cobb County Superior Court after the prosecution produced records showing he had been convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense in Ohio in 1994. The records also showed that when he moved to Illinois in 1996, he had registered as a sex offender there. Swanagan was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but all but a year was suspended.
In 2012, Swanagan reached out to the media, and Jeff Chirico, a reporter for CBS television news in Atlanta, began investigating the case. Chirico discovered that under existing sex offender registry laws, Swanagan’s name should have been removed from sex offender registry lists in 2004.
After the news report aired, the prosecution investigated the claim and determined that Swanagan was not required to register as a sex offender in Georgia. Swanagan obtained a new defense attorney who filed a motion to vacate the conviction and to dismiss the case.
On August 6, 2012, Swanagan was released from custody and on August 14, at the request of the defense and the prosecution, his conviction was vacated and the charges were dismissed.
In 2014, Swanagan filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in Atlanta.
– Maurice Possley