A married couple filed a federal suit on Nov. 20 against a condominium homeowners association, alleging that the association violated the couple’s 14th amendment rights by barring sex offenders from living in its complex.
In their complaint in Theodore Whipple, et al v. Valley View Village Condominium Homeowners Association in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin, the couple states that Theodore Whipple, the husband and one of the two plaintiffs, has been convicted and is registered as a sex offender based on an offense that occurred 20 years ago.
The complaint alleges the homeowners association posted a notice on the couple’s door on Sept. 18, “announcing for the first time that registered sex offenders are not allowed to live in the condominium.” The complaint alleges that, on or around that day, Whipple, having been released from prison, began moving into an apartment in the complex. Also around that same time, the complaint alleges, the homeowners association’s board passed a rule attempting “to deny residence to all persons who are required to register with the Texas Sex Offender Registry, on any property within Valley View within 2000 feet of any location at which children congregate.” The complaint alleges the newly passed rule “effectively denies all registered sex offenders, regardless of their risk level, the right to reside within Valley View.”
The complaint alleges that the homeowners association, which acted like a government body, violated the couple’s 14th amendment rights, unlawfully infringed on his wife’s right to alienate property and violated the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The couple seeks an injunction to stop the homeowners association from enforcing its newly created rule barring sex offenders.
Lawyers for both sides decline comment: Fred Williams, a partner in the Austin office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld represents the couple, and Lance Lackey, of counsel at Niemann & Heyer in Austin, represents the homeowners association.
-- Miriam Rozen