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City OKs Stricter Park Sex Offender Ban

On a 4-0 vote, Lake Forest's City Council tentatively approves a measure to ban registered sex offenders from city parks. It's tougher than the county law that inspired it.

A proposal to ban registered sex offenders from Lake Forest city parks, modeled after a , could end up being the most stringent in Orange County.

After hearing from 16 emotional public speakers—some pleading for passage of the law, others begging the council to nix it—Lake Forest officials voted 4-0 Tuesday to approve the measure, with a clause that makes it stricter than the original county ban.

The county law, which has spurred a number of Orange County cities to pass laws that mirror it, makes it a misdemeanor for a registered sex offender to be in a county-run area where children gather, such as a park or beach. However, written permission from the Sheriff's Department can override that.

Lake Forest's ban, which would cover the city's 27 parks, grants no exceptions.

A line of speakers shared personal experiences in a bid to sway the council vote. (Councilman Mark Tettemer was absent due to illness.) 

Local parents said they would feel safer knowing registered sex offenders were not allowed in parks.

“These parks are places for our kids to be kids and part of what makes Lake Forest such an attractive place to raise kids,” said Erin Hoskinson, a mother of three. "This ordinance is about preserving Lake Forest as a family city.”

But attorney Janice Bellucci, state organizer with Reform State Offender Laws, asserted that the park ban is not the best way to protect children.

Most sexual assaults on children are conducted by family members or friends, she said. Only 1.2 percent of such assaults take place in parks, she asserted.

The ordinance is also “overly broad,” which makes its open to challenges in court, Bellucci said.

She requested a 180-day review period before a council vote.

Others offered more personal stories.

Elise Lindsey told the council that her father's expunged conviction for a sex offense 30 years ago should make officials think twice about passing the ban.

Other than being listed as a registered sex offender, "my dad is just like you," Lindsey said. If the ban passes, "I would not be able to enjoy time with my father at the park or enjoy my future child’s birthday party at the park," she said. “[The] protection of children is paramount—as is the protection of our civic rights," she said.

Also opposing the ban was a registered sex offender who said the law would unfairly lump all sex offenses into one category.

"I didn’t have sex with anyone. I didn’t try to have sex with anyone," Jeffrey McBride said. Yet, "my life has been utterly destroyed in the last four years."

(According to Megan's Law records, McBride was convicted of possessing child pornography.)

Soon after McBride's testimony, Orange County District Attorney Chief of Staff Susan Schroeder said McBride's statements had "no credibility" because his claim of not engaging in illegal sex was false.

Schroeder said she had "seen [McBride's] file," and asserted that photographs found on his computer showed him having sex with children.

McBride angrily denied her assertion immediately.

The outburst was followed by Mayor Peter Herzog asking Schroeder to limit her comments to generalities, rather than singling out audience members.

Earlier, Kelly Hagins, a local advocate for the ban, urged the council to "prioritize" the community's children. “I’m sorry someone can’t go to a park, but my son’s future, his health and safety are more important than that,” she said.

Under the proposal approved Tuesday, registered sex offenders would be prohibited from entering parks owned, leased, operated or maintained by the city.

The proposal was  by .

In November,  and fast-tracked a proposal modeled after the county's ban for discussion.

It will return for final approval Dec. 20. If OK'ed at that meeting, it would take effect 30 days later.

Sex Offender Issues December 07, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Mr. Voigts was running for city council, so of course he's going to break out the sex offender scapegoat. https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSOIssues http://sexoffenderissues.blogspot.com
ms.sc. December 07, 2011 at 04:25 PM
It's a thin line on this one, I agree. On one hand I agree that registered sex offenders should be limited to not living near schools, but public parks? Why would young children be left alone by their parents in the first place? Has there been a problem with registered sex offenders in parks that I am unaware of? Safety of children is paramount and parents should not leave their children unattended. If a person is deemed that dangerous, he/she should be locked behind the judicial bars.
Lake Forest Citizen Paying Attention December 07, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Justa Person is apparently not Justa INFORMED Person. Mr. Voights was elected last year (as the top vote getter in the race). He is not up for reelection until 2014. Maybe Justa should check the facts before spouting nonsense. After all, it's better to sit quietly and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
David December 07, 2011 at 05:09 PM
I attended the meeting last night. There seemed to be 2 groups there. One group was made up of women who seemed well prepared and determined to, "make the Parks safe for children". The other group made up of men fighting for there constitutional rights to not be persicuted further after they have served their punishment under the law. After the meeting ended I came away with a feeling that sex offenders aren't really a problem in the parks and that the womens group led by Susan Schroder just plain hates men. I thought Susan Schroder acted unprofesionally and showed out and out rage and hatred tword a member of the audiance. It was obvious after the meeting that she had brought these women in to speak. Out of all Schroders women who spoke I did not see any of their husbands there to "suport the children". I was left feeling this was a gender issue not a sex offender issue. I was also left wondering why rapist, felons, drug addicts and gang members where not also banned from going to Parks. There is something not right here.
Kel8856 December 07, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Excuse me, David, but I am offended that you would call me a man-hater. Both my parents were there last night and I have a wonderful and close relationship to my dad. MY HUSBAND WAS AT HOME TAKING CARE OF OUR SON (another male I adore), thank you very much. He fully supports me and had you attended the previous meeting, you would have seen him there as well. Most children do go to bed early, you know, so someone has to be with them while try to change uneducated, ignorant thought processes out there. To address your suspicion that Ms. Shroeder "brought us" - how rude! I have been attending meetings all over OC as a child safety advocate for 7 months. I am a parent and this is important to me. Yes, I do know her, I met her doing this. The other ladies that spoke did not hide who they were. They are moms, teachers, active residents, radKIDS instructors, Joyful Child Ambassadors and courageous women. One was even a victim herself who bravely stood up and spoke. How dare you make assumptions that are so wrong, as well as trivial and naive. For your information, not one of those ladies had ever even met Susan before last night. Its pretty clear you support sex offenders, so I doubt debating with you will change anything. Yes, there have been cases in parks all over the country. Read up. And regardless of whatever statistics, NOT ONE MORE CHILD should have to be put in harms way, even if you think it is a small percentage. I am disgusted and you should be ashamed.
David December 07, 2011 at 06:31 PM
Thanks for your comment on my reply. Like I stated, that was my impression of what I saw. I do not support sex offenders. What disturbs me is the ability of government to trample on the rights of its citizens. Sex offenders are unpopular and even hated so they are a target. How far do we let government go? What's next? It still bothers me that other groups who pose a greater danger to your saftey and that of your children where not included? How could you ignore this? Your chances of getting raped or shot by a gang member are far greater than a sex offender do anthing to your children at a park. Like you if anyone touches my kids there going need an ambulance to leave the park. I am all for protecting kids but lets do this right. As one man nervously stated, lets target the guys that are a real danger, like the Phil Garedos and Dave Gardners of the world. These guys are truly dangerous to all of us. If my impression was incorect then I apologise.
Non Citizen December 07, 2011 at 06:38 PM
Don't try to bring facts into this. Remember, this is the SEX OFFENDER Witch Hunt. Of course, the fact of the matter is that this Banishment will be worse-than-worthless. It will protect no one, put people in more danger, and cause many other problems as well. Just like SEX OFFENDER Registration does in general. But again, no one is particularly concerned about the facts in the Witch Hunt.
Non Citizen December 07, 2011 at 06:39 PM
You are a terrible person who has no business calling yourself an American. I would love to see you people exported to a country where you fit in better. If you think this Banishment will do any good, you are a moron.
Kirk Barrus December 07, 2011 at 06:40 PM
David, Seriously? A gender issue? When does protecting children from sex offenders become a gender issue? Do fathers not love their children and want them safe? Has not every study shown that child molesters are virtually incurable? I don't care if keeping them out of parks is only a symbolic stand. It is a stand against the most morally reprehensible act a human can commit. Here is a grandfather that would have sex offenders castrated on the first offense and executed on the second. Gender issue? I think not.
Non Citizen December 07, 2011 at 06:43 PM
The people who passed this are simply criminals. Hold those people personally accountable. What they did is also pure theft. And of course, you have to ask, why did the criminals not include all people who have committed violent felonies in their Banishment? Why not? What are their "excuses"? Is it because they don't have a convenient list of them for some reason? And why is that? Is it because it would just be too darn hard to include that in the law? The fact is, they have no excuse. And it is also proof beyond any doubt at all, that just like SEX OFFENDER Registration itself, this Banishment doesn't have squat to do with "public safety" or "protecting children". Those are just the lies told by these criminals and the terrorists who support them. This is a message to people who are Registered in the U.S.: These criminals and all the others like them are stealing from you. They are attacking you, your spouses, and your children. It is unacceptable. Don't sit back and accept it. Find these people and retaliate against them individually and personally. Anything that you can do that is legal is fair game. It doesn't have to be limited to their professions and it can certainly involve their families. It just has to be legal. Don't let these Unamericans exist in peace while they are attacking Americans.
Kel8856 December 07, 2011 at 07:13 PM
Thank you David. Interesting you brought up Garrido. He and his wife sat in parks and videotaped children. They are online for you to view. We were there last night to discuss one thing. A city ban. If you want to change other laws, you have every right to go fight for whatever cause you believe in. If you want to try to ban murderers, go for it. Every person chooses their battle, usually according to a personal incident that ignites their passion. To each their own. Dont be fooled by these people who threaten and get angered because their rights are being hindered. That was their choice before they were arrested. Of course they are angry. Their rights are already restricted due to the crime they committed. I have no tolerance for felony 290 registrants. Obviously low level SO's who are misdemeanor offenders have fewer restrictions, but they like to over-sensationalize these bans anyway, or they are not educated/did not read the legal language of the ordinance. Talk about fear tactics. These people can also petition a judge to be removed. But keep in mind that most "low level" offenders crimes usually are a precursor to more serious crimes, or are just the one crime they were caught doing...not all are that way, but it is a proven fact that they gain more confidence the more they succeed. I am sick and tired of hearing the same old thing from criminals who dont like it that we are taking steps to take away their "temptations" (as one sex offender stated last night).
Shelly Stow December 07, 2011 at 10:20 PM
No, Kirk, every study has not shown that child molesters are virtually incurable. In fact, every study shows a very different picture, that once caught, those with a sexual offense will seldom re-offend. This is true across the country and, most importantly, in California. From California News, Wednesday, July 13, 2011: "Few sex offenders deemed 'violent predators,' audit finds. Since 2005, 59 percent of California's released sex offenders violated their parole; however, just 1 percent (134 convicts) committed a new offense." You are a grandfather; I am a grandmother, and after a little research, I quickly determined that very few of those on the registry committed "the most morally reprehensible act a human can commit," but that the registry and bans such as this one punish them all as if they had. Furthermore, it is such an over-bloated and therefore worthless registry that allows the Girardos and the Gardners to operate off the grid. Those who should be monitoring them closer are too busy monitoring the other 90-something percent who pose little to no risk. I taught school; one of the first things I learned was not to punish an entire class for the behaviors of a few; that is exactly what the registry and this ban does. : "Few sex offenders deemed 'violent predators,' audit finds Wednesday, July 13, 2011 "Since 2005, 59 percent of California's released sex offenders violated their parole; however, just 1 percent (134 convicts) committed a new offense."
Kirk Barrus December 07, 2011 at 11:55 PM
Shelly, as always, the devil is in the details. We can all agree that "sex offenders" come in many styles. Some of them completely harmless and caught in a bad situation. Sadly, we can't tell the difference while our children are playing in the park. Child molesters do recidivate and at an alarming rate and their crimes are rarely reported. In this arena I have to side with the broad brush. Keep them all out of the parks, otherwise, keep them locked up. In my opinion, you do the conversation harm by quoting broad statistics when we are really dealing with a special kind of offender.
Shelly Stow December 08, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Thank you, Kirk; I appreciate your input and your concern which mirrors mine of keeping children safe. I have to say that in my opinion, you do the conversation harm by making irresponsible and unsupported statements such as child molesters recidivate at an alarming rate. Certain child molesters do, and they are in a tiny minority. The greatest majority of child molesters are of the incest variety, and, even though seldom turned in, when they are, they have the lowest of all recidivism rates. My concern is twofold; first, ordinances such as the one proposed here do not differentiate between the tiny percentage of high-risk child molesters and everyone else on the registry. And secondly, putting all resources and focus on those on the registry when as high as 98% of child molestation is committed by someone not on the registry is ignoring the risk and the tragedy of almost all children who are being molested. I am very careful with my statements and my figures. Everything I write is supported by the Justice Dept. as well as university and other government studies across the nation. The special kind of offender, the monsters that all should fear, will be best managed and monitored when individual, risk-based assessment is used and the masses who are not dangerous but are on the registry taking almost all of law enforcement's resources are removed.
Kel8856 December 08, 2011 at 01:53 AM
Thats ridiculous Shelly. There are no resources utilized in this ban. Its a tool for parents and law enforcement should the situation arise with an SO who is not on parole or probation, like my situation. Your stats are very conservative, to say the least. I have read the Justice Dept study and off the top of my head they even conservatively stated 4 or 5% recidivism. And no one talks about the fact that those the only the ones convicted. Its estimated that fewer than 10% of sex crimes are not even reported, let alone arrested or convicted. It is an epidemic - 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be molested by the age of 18. Somewhere around 90% of those abusers are someone they know, either a family member, friend or someone who won over their trust by GROOMING THEM at a park, church, etc. They arent just molesting one kid. Its a sickness, and the more they get away with it, the more confident they feel to try again. Sadly, NOT ONE percent, NOT ONE CHILD, is okay with me. These numbers you so flippantly write are CHILDREN (the one group of our society unable to defend themselves). Next time, maybe you can post their names and ages under your statistics. Im sure the parents that raised them and protected them from colds, falls, etc. and then lost their child to a predator would not be comfortable with your "data" and your statements.
Non Citizen December 08, 2011 at 02:15 AM
I should add a few things to this. The first is that there is no hurry to retaliate against these people. There is plenty of time. And of course, it should be a very long, on-going task. The retaliation should occur as often as is convenient and should be continued for years and decades. It can and should be continued for a very long time. Don't do anything illegal, there is plenty that can be done that is legal. When you retaliate against one of these criminals, do not even bring the subject of "SEX OFFENDER" into it. There is no reason for them to know really why they are being attacked. They don't even need to know who is doing it. The only point is to disrupt their lives and bring misery to people. Find out who their enemies are and help them. Lastly, since the SEX OFFENDER Witch Hunt is immoral, every person who is listed on a Registry in the U.S. should understand what it is that the terrorists who support the Registries would like for you not to do, and then do that as much as is convenient. Again, it should go without saying, that whatever is done should be legal. Most people who are Registered can be around children as much as they like and that is certainly something that should be done. The right thing to do is to tell the terrorists where to shove it.
Non Citizen December 08, 2011 at 02:20 AM
Kel8856: Please. What a bunch of the same, tired BS. I'm not angered because my "rights are being hindered". I'm angered because this BS is happening in America and that there are apparently actually people who call themselves Americans who think this is all okay. That does not suprise me though because Americans have a very, very long sordid history of a tyrannical majority doing hateful, useless, idiotic things to the hated minority of the moment. You said, "That was their choice before they were arrested." What the hell does that even mean? This Banishment harassment did not exist prior to the people being arrested. In America, we don't allow criminal governments to add more and more punishments onto people every time they get some genius thought in their little minds. I don't care if the Banishment is only applied to people we all can really hate - felony 290 registrants. It's wrong. Your statement about "we are taking steps to take away their "temptations" (as one sex offender stated last night)" is hilarious. That's what you think? What a fool you are. Your Banishment will "work" just like Registration "works". It will punish and harass the vast majority of people who are Registered who are doing nothing but living normal lives like anyone else and all the while it will do absolutely nothing to even slightly hinder anyone else from committing any crime that he/she would like. Reality, anyone?
Shelly Stow December 08, 2011 at 03:12 AM
No resources? No one checking to determine the presence of a registrant? No one arresting the violators? Booking them? Hmmm. Kel, it is clear from your language that you are so immersed in the myths and the hype that an actual discussion is probably pointless. I just want to correct one misunderstanding you may have about me. I am not dismissing a single child or the harm done to any child. I just cannot understand why virtually 100% of time, energy, and resources is devoted to a group of individuals--registrants--who by even the least conservative measures you could choose are responsible for no more than 10% of child sexual molestation while the cause of at least 90% of sexual abuse of children--their family members and others who are trusted family acquaintances and are not registered offenders--are ignored as though they did not exist. I care deeply about the 10%; but I care just as much about the 90%, and no one is speaking for or caring about them. Nothing is spent on programs that could reduce their numbers. No one writes articles about their pain and their silent suffering and demanding that they get justice. Don't they deserve for someone to care about them also?
Lake Forest Citizen Paying Attention December 08, 2011 at 06:55 AM
David - you are misguided at best, and more likely an indication of a complete lack of knowledge on the subject. I was there last night with my son. I got up and spoke, as I had done at the prior meeting, in favor of this ordinance. Clearly your mind is closed on this issue and you either weren't paying attention to who spoke and what they said, or you chose to intentionally ignore the fact that this was not a men vs women issue. Last night was much more an issue of parents who are concerned about making sure we are doing everything possible to protect children and registered sex offenders who don't like the fact that they are still paying for the poor choices they have made and the grotesque things they have done in acting on those choices. Your observations that there were no husbands there to support the children tells me two things: 1) You either don't have children of your own or you have never been an active parent in their lives if you do, and 2) again, you either weren't paying attention or you are intentionally misrepresenting the facts since I spoke and I am both a husband and father. Had you been at the prior meeting you would know Ms. Schroder was not at the prior meeting but about 1/2 of the women that spoke were there as speakers both nights. I can't help but wonder why it is that they were there both nights, but you only showed up when a bunch of RSOs were there. Perhaps it is you that was brought in as opposition, not these women you are lashing out at?
Lake Forest Citizen Paying Attention December 08, 2011 at 07:06 AM
As for those who are concerned that this ordinance is a waste of resources. This ordinance was sought by and supported in earnest by the OC Sheriff's Department and the OCDA. Both organizations are tasked with the enforcement of law, both operate with limited resources and are quite experienced in balancing and prioritizing those limited resources to maximize their ability to do the job they are tasked with, and BOTH ORGANIZATIONS ASKED FOR THIS ORDINANCE! The professionals believe that this is a valuable tool in their arsenal. I don't know the backgrounds of Shelley, David, and Non Citizen, but I'd be willing to bet that not one of you has ever been trained in the law or in law enforcement. Would you ask a landscaper to do your dental work? A fighter pilot to perform surgery? My guess is you answered those questions in the negative. I choose to ask those trained in law and/or law enforcement to determine the best way to utilize the resources available for conducting law enforcement activities.
Non Citizen December 08, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Shelly: You are absolutely correct but you are talking to unreasonable people. Most of the people who support these laws would rather take the much, much easier route of just harassing people they need to hate instead of actually doing anything to reduce sexual offending. And of course, the media could not be happier with all the empty grandstanding. The fact is, as a parent, you MUST assume that anyone is a child molester and you MUST be prepared for that. You MUST supervise AND educate your children. If you do not, you are NOT protecting them. And if you do do that, you have zero need for any Registry. Especially ones that leave off the > 98% of the sexual offenders that might harm my children and the millions of people who may harm them non-sexually (or do most Americans parents really not care about people who would shoot their children in the face?). <continued in my next comment>
Non Citizen December 08, 2011 at 05:53 PM
<continued from my previous comment> And there is not a single person in this world, in law enforcement or not (that's for you, Charles C J Brower), who can justify this ordinance. Are you serious? When I was raising my many children, do you think I would have given about damn about whether or not some nanny government told me that they were keeping all the bad guys out of the park? And does anyone actually think this ordinance has more than a 0% chance of actually working? It literally nauseates me that people could think it was useful enough that they would support some criminal, nanny government harassing people who did something wrong 3 freaking decades ago! People should have to take IQ tests before being in government, law enforcement, or being allowed to comment on any of it. And the fact remains, that none of this is about "public safety" or "protecting children". Those are just the lies that are told to sell it and make themselves feel good. The fact that we can't even SPEAK about creating the rest of the Registries or including all the other deserving people into ordinances like this one is more than enough proof. Unless our country continues to deteriorate, this period of our history will be looked back upon like many others are - with greatly deserved shame and disgust.
Non Citizen December 08, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Of course it is a waste of resources. Every single second and penny spent on it is a waste that could have otherwise been used to deal with actual crimes. And do you people actually think the ordinance will do something besides waste resources? If you do, I have some bad news for you. Any Registered person who wants to commit a crime in a park, will be there. You think it's a good thing that law enforcement asked for this ordinance? Good God. Governments and law enforcement in our country will never, ever, ever, ever cease to stop asking taxpayers for more and more resources. Never. They will never have enough to protect us from nothing. And there will ALWAYS be some big bogeyman after us. Seriously, take a look at their "war on drugs" if you want to understand what I am talking about. Further, law enforcement people should be treated and regarded with deep distrust. If you don't think so, you haven't seen reality. Most people who get into law enforcement are not doing it for the right reasons. It is a messed up bunch. If you want to listen to someone, listen to experts. The only good governments and law enforcement, are broke ones. Which is why I spend most of my efforts trying to keep money away from them. The less they have, the better off we are. How long ago was it when O.C. declared bankruptcy? Isn't California completely broke right now? And they just passed that moronic, moronic Jessica's Law! They cannot be bankrupt again fast enough. They deserve it.

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