Sex Offender Ordered to Wear Warning T-Shirt

A sex offender with a history of exposing himself has been ordered by a judge to wear a T-shirt proclaiming "I am a registered sex offender."

Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden also sentenced Russell Teeter, 69, to two months in jail Friday for repeatedly exposing himself at his Newark-area business to a 10-year-old girl.

Jurden handed down the unusual sentence at the suggestion of the state's deputy attorney general, Donald Roberts, who noted that Teeter has more than 10 convictions dating to 1976 and has been treated for being a compulsive exhibitionist.

Roberts told the judge that perhaps the shirt and jail time will "teach him to keep his zipper up."

Teeter will have to wear the shirt for almost two years once he gets out of jail and returns to his horticulture business.

Defense attorney Arlen Mekler opposed the sentence, describing the T-shirt as "a modern-day scarlet letter," referring to the humiliating punishment given an adulterous woman in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel about puritan New England who was forced to wear a red letter "A" on her clothing.

Drewry Fennell, executive director of the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union, shared Mekler's concern.

"There is no evidence that public shaming is effective in public safety," she said. "And there are serious dangers posed to the person wearing the shirt, exposing them to possible violence."

Roberts, the prosecutor, said he believes the T-shirt fits in with the community notification requirement of Megan's Law.

Mekler said Teeter is battling depression and regressed because he went off of his medication. He also noted that Teeter has never molested a child but is just a chronic exhibitionist.