Sex offender at center of Supreme Court case accused of failing to register online account

Last modified: 12/4/2015 1:05:59 AM
A Manchester man with disabilities who has petitioned for years to get off the state’s public sex offender registry, and who won the chance this year to argue his case in court, has been arrested, accused of failing to disclose an online account.

Norman St. Hilaire, 66, was detained Wednesday and charged with one count of failure to register, a felony. A police detective told the Union Leader he had created a Facebook account, but did not elaborate.

St. Hilaire was bailed the same day on a $500 cash bond, according to court records. An arraignment is set for Dec. 31 at 8:15 a.m.

St. Hilaire’s civil case has drawn statewide attention for its implications on sex offenders like him, who were convicted before 1993, the year the public registry was created. In February, the state Supreme Court ruled that the current registry requirements were overly punitive for offenders like St. Hilaire, who pleaded guilty in 1987 to raping a child, and has since served his sentence. The court ruled he should at least be afforded the opportunity to prove he is no longer a threat through a hearing in Merrimack County Superior Court.

State and county officials have said the decision opened the door for hundreds of similar sex offenders to petition to get off the public list, and at least two have already done so successfully.

St. Hilaire, who says he wants off the registry to apply for federally subsidized housing, was scheduled for a hearing in Concord last month, but withdrew after his victim asked to testify. He can still become eligible if he proves the high court’s decision effectively lifted his status as a lifetime registrant, because he can now petition periodically to get off the list. A hearing on that question has been set for Monday.

Gilles Bissonnette, one of St. Hilaire’s attorneys in his civil case, declined to comment Thursday.

St. Hilaire’s victim, now in her mid-40s and married with children, insisted in an interview last month that his abuse was more pervasive than the convictions reflect, and that he remains a physical threat. She claimed then that St. Hilaire had been sending Facebook messages to a young relative, though it’s unclear what the content of those were.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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