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Lake Forest Repeals Ban on Sex Offenders in Parks

Amid heated debate, officials say the law would cost too much to defend in court, and tentatively vote to strike it down.

Citing the high cost of defending the measure in court, the Lake Forest City Council voted Tuesday to end its ban on sex offenders in city parks.

Keeping the law would cost at least $200,000 in legal fees to defend, said City Attorney Scott C. Smith. And that's only if the city won, a prospect that seems increasingly questionable. Losing in court could bring penalties, including paying the legal costs of the sex offenders who challenge the ban.

As one of more than a dozen OC cities to enact the sex offender bans spearheaded by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Lake Forest's move is being watched by city leaders throughout Orange County.

The city knew it had a legal battle on its hands when the law passed unanimously last December, said Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff for the Orange County district attorney's office.

"When we were here last year, we told them we would be sued," she said.

Mayor Kathryn McCullough asked the D.A. to promise to pay the city's legal costs if opponents sued. 

The question set off an argument between her and Rackauckas. Read a transcript of that argument here.

Rackauckas said neither he nor the county could be expected to pay the city's fees.

One activist lawyer said she had two clients ready to sue the city if the repeal did not go forward.

"If that ordinance is not repealed, that lawsuit will be filed," said Janice Bellucci, state organizer with California Reform Sex Offender Laws.

Bellucci said only 1.9 percent of California's sex offenders are arrested again for sex crimes. "They are people who have already been in prison, already paid their debt to society," she said.

But Lake Forest resident Mary Axelrod said the ban was needed to protect the city's children from molestation.

"This is a sickness, and the only way to stop this is for them to stay away and avoid the temptation, which is going into a group of children," she said. "I would think the safety of the children would outweigh lawsuits because the people come first in all occasions."

Robert Curtis, a Lake Forest hairdresser convicted 12 years ago of a misdemeanor sex crime, said the ban keeps him from watching over his son in city parks.

Rackauckas said he was unsure if the city's repeal would be repeated around the county, saying "it's pretty hard to call." Currently about half of Orange County's cities have enacted similar laws.

A county law along the same lines is no longer being enforced following the overturned conviction of Hugo Godinez.

Keeping the law on the books but not enforcing it would still leave Lake Forest with "some vulnerability" to lawsuits, Smith said.

The council tentatively reversed the measure on a 4-0 vote with one abstention. The reversal will return later for final approval.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS

Should the city defend the ban despite the risk of court challenges?

Merijoe Axe December 09, 2012 at 08:48 PM
The point Andro, of ME. posting this is to point out that morally and ethically, Hertzog, because the court has not ruled yet, should have recused hinself from casting a vote for any law that pertains to LF, any. Legally, I'm sure he was ok.
Merijoe Axe December 09, 2012 at 09:09 PM
By "Torture" (Sandra Friend's little boy, Michael Lyons) I mean: This monster took Michael, inflicted 70 to 80 non-lethal stab wounds to the little boy. Yet he was not finished; he continued to rape Michael the entire time. He ultimately took his life the following morning.
Andromeda December 09, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Merijoe, the larger point that you seem to be missing is that a drunk driver could reoffend and endanger our children on the public roadways. So where are you and Valerie on this one? Shouldn't you be protesting against a system that allows convicted drunk drivers of ever using our roadways and endangering our children??? Please respond.
Merijoe Axe December 09, 2012 at 09:47 PM
A-let's just stay on this one subject, shall we? Peter Herzog is an elected councilmember in LF since 1996, Im just talking about Peter Herzog-he is elected in office, an important law/policy making local seat to represent me and the other residents of LF who pay taxes with policies/laws that directly affect me- you with me so far? (not trying to be sacastic, I just want to make it clear where I'm coming from here) My point bringing the DUI that he just occurred, is to question whether or not it was a good idea for him, MORALLY and ETHICALLY, to have voted for a law/policy implication that could impact a resident of LF....what he or anyone does in the future as far as drunk behavior is not my point The issue is not roadways at this time. I'm talking about Tuesday night's agenda, nothing else. I think, this is me, that ELECTED officials who are voted in office to represent me in government according to the Constitution of the US are and should be, held to higher standards in life and owe it to the people they represent. If Im expected to obey the laws of the city, so should everyone, especially electeds.
Andromeda December 09, 2012 at 10:13 PM
No, Merijoe. Don't avoid the larger point here. Unless I'm mistaken, you opposed the repeal of the park ban in the name of "safety" for our children. Well, if you were truly an advocate of child safety why wouldn't you ban the roadways to drivers that have been convicted and proven to have a proclivity to climb behind the steering wheel of an automobile while drunk? An innocent child could be crossing a crosswalk while one of these reoffenders was driving down the same street. Where is your stance on that issue? Don't you want to 'save the children'? Now PLEASE respond. It is a PERTINENT point to this subject matter! DON'T DODGE THE ISSUE!!!!! The vote would have been approved without Herzog's approval. So what did it really matter whether he voted or not? You are chasing ghosts, my dear.
Merijoe Axe December 09, 2012 at 10:28 PM
A-once again, I am not referring to the roadways at this time, and am not going to continually repeat myself- I made myself clear-that's it.
Valerie Parkhurst December 09, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Andromeda you wouldnt know the defintition of "the larger point" if it stuck you in the backside. Again your powers to pursaude to let "sex offenders go where they want when they want" is falling short and you circumvent the topic by deflecting off of it with dribble. You align yourself with members of RSOL and think you have a "win" behind a keyboard, all the while being too ignorant to realize "who" your new best friends really are or what convictions they have under their belts. All the while failing to realize by aligning yourself with their efforts and with them, you will seal your fate with anti's you have never heard of. Merryjoe Axe is correct in all of her post and all of her reasonings. I dont want bank robbers making Bank Policies, I dont want drug dealers making drug policies, but if there is one thing I "especially" wont tolerate, are convicted sex offenders making sex offender policies and laws and ordinances that pertain to them and their oversight. Convicted felons dont make social policies for a very good reason. You have a huge disconnect with that concept.
Valerie Parkhurst December 09, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Elected officials first and foremost responsibility are to their Constituents and their well being. That includes any aspect of city business that promotes a healthy and inviting atmosphere for growth and economic prosperity for the district these officials are sworn to oversee. Their job description does not include re-inventing the wheel when it comes to deviants or caving under litigation threats by a small vocal group of ex cons and or their advocates. Someone should call attention to the fact that if a family or business is looking to inhabit this community, a huge drawback would be an ordinance "allowing sex offenders" in city run venues. It would be a deal killer for my family and I am sure I wouldnt be the only one. Elected officials are elected to have the kanhuna's to promote policies that enhance a district not decimate it. Making any part of any city "sex offender friendly" would be grounds to recall that official in a heartbeat..
Andromeda December 09, 2012 at 11:14 PM
"A-once again, I am not referring to the roadways at this time, and am not going to continually repeat myself- I made myself clear-that's it" Thanks for the victory.
Valerie Parkhurst December 09, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Oh and numb-nuts Andromeda..Americans know to protect themselves and they do that efficiently when they pass laws and ordinance's against "known threats" to their families. Sex offender legislation contrary to RSOL's mantra is NOT passed on knee-jerk reactions. Sex offender Laws were written with the "blood of our children" The Registry doesnt Protect us, the ability to access those who have been convicted of sexually based crimes and act accordingly is to allow us to PROTECT "ourselves" which is vital to a healthy society, from the crap you post it sounds like it would be ok if we opened up all our prisons and demand we fend for ourselves since its no ones duty but our own to either sink or swim. Guess that means every cop, judge and legislator can be let go and sent home. Sex offenders and their advocates dont realize that all their promoting to go back underground will have dire effects on their lives. Americans lived under lax laws concerning these freaks, and even with strictor enforcement they still manage to chew up our kids and spit them out. If RSOL get what they want? They can bank on Law Enforcement being the last people called ..Of course they can always start up a new website titled "Missing sex offenders" probably wont get as much traffic as "missing Childrens" but the list should be shorter on the latter..
Andromeda December 09, 2012 at 11:21 PM
More drivel. You want special post de facto laws to apply to only one class from criminal who has paid all his or her debts to society. heh. And you refuse to address my question why former drunk drivers should not be banned from the roadways, bars and liquor establishments for life, why former armed bank robbers should not be banned from banks for life, why former thieves should not have a special mark tatooed on their foreheads, why former elder abusers should not be banned from all elder communities and places that elders frequent, etc...... heh. As soon as you get out your little hatchet and go after all the above I will give you my attention. Otherwise, IMO your logic and rational thinking is severely flawed.
Andromeda December 09, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Why don't you get some of your friends together and form a posse to follow reformed sex offenders around in the park? See how that works out. Why don't you go after the porn industry while you're at it? Doesn't it exploit and degrade women? Why don't you demand the system to ban it? When Peter Herzog originally voted for the park ban did you praise him? Or did you criticize him back them too? So they are all good people when they do as you want. Otherwise they are bad? Is that how it works? heh. There are so many causes, Valerie. Why limit yourself?
Andromeda December 09, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Blah...blah....blah..... When's the last time the American citizens voted for a sex offender law, dear? Normally it's politicians throwing chunks of red meat into the school of sharks for personal expedience - which is NOT a democracy, dear. It's emotional bait that many ignorant people swallow without thinking. Yeah, I know, Valerie. There's a sex offender behind every bush in the park. Let's bring back McCathyism. heh. You're a hoot, dear. Enjoy your evening.
Valerie Parkhurst December 09, 2012 at 11:39 PM
to follow "reformed sex offenders around in the park?" Oh so its true? You have one sharing your pillow...should have said so earlier Andromeda..Let me introduce you to "Evil-Unveiled" plenty of your buddies are on there..
Valerie Parkhurst December 09, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Could have saved us alot of time if you just said you were banging a sex offender Andromeda..
Valerie Parkhurst December 09, 2012 at 11:52 PM
funny do ya know the lyrics to 'Sleeping in the devils bed" Andromeda?? c'mon ya must know it I think of you when I tell myself And the fever rises high I think of you and I get what's comin' Sleeping in the Devil's bed No points for you andomeda..
D.M. Jacques December 10, 2012 at 07:43 AM
Residency and other similar laws directed against sex offenders in a paroxysm of irrational hatred do not reduce crime rates or serve any other legitimate purpose.
Valerie Parkhurst December 10, 2012 at 10:02 AM
Says who? You D.M. Jacques? Neighborhoods who accomadate a disproportionate amount of sex offenders immediately have a depreciation factor of over 19% over a comparable neighborhood with more stringent residency restrictions. Add that to an already depreciating economy and there is nothing irrational about it. Add a designated "Predator" to the population and the depreciation factor goes down another 3%." Liars can figure D.M. Figures dont lie" sex offenders migrate towards areas zoned for rentals, lower blue collar neighborhoods. The same neighborhoods that draw young new families that can least afford a hit from one of these freaks. Sex offenders tend to be transient and have "no skin" in the game of real estate, therefore it makes no sense to accomadate them under threats of litigation from a small secular group of ex cons or their advocates.
Valerie Parkhurst December 10, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Mr. Gardner, If I may be so bold, My Mayor, Vice Mayor Town Administrator and all my city commissioners encountered this same issue in a very heated Town meeting that included an ACLU attorney, sex offenders, sex offender advocates and the Town's People themselves. Our objective was to enhance the residency restrictions and turn the town from a disproportionate amount of sex offenders to a very unenviting town for offenders. We accomplished that and more. The Town is now one of the most prohibited for these transient offenders. We passed a Landlord ordinance, 2500 feet restriction and added (regardless of conviction date) which gives the town more teeth in enforcement.. My Town Council was "stellar" in this meeting and have since been re-elected or gone on to higher offices. It was a moment in the history of the Town that opened the door to Growth and a willingness by the elected to uphold the will of the people despite litigation threats by the ACLU. Since that time I have attended many meetings where the ACLU was present and presented their "Bluff" of litigation to cities desiring stronger ordinances on sex offenders. The operative word being "Bluff". In 2010 they mandated they would not endulge in these suits, but would still hold the "threat" in open meetings. Its a scare tactic and one City Governments should not fall for.
Valerie Parkhurst December 10, 2012 at 10:50 AM
The other side of the coin is the "offenders themselves". Those that were "grandfathered in" and remain in the city are doing well. They have not had to compete with a disproprtionate amount of sex offenders that have the Neighbors throwing stones at them. They seem to be complying with their mandates and quite frankly the Neighborhood is living in conjunction with them easily. These compliant offenders will be the first to tell you that the towns restrictions were the best thing to happen to them. Where once the city was drowning in transient offenders and the residents were calling for "all their heads" the strictor ordinances now allow the grandfathered offenders some obscurity to go about their lives. If you ask one of my cities offenders if the harsher legislation was helpful? You will get a resounding YES from them.
Valerie Parkhurst December 13, 2012 at 05:01 PM
speakin of the devil.. http://www.newbernsj.com/news/local/sex-offender-arrested-in-new-bern-park-1.63960
Valerie Parkhurst March 08, 2013 at 12:29 PM
speakin of the devl again? Recently there have been several reports of kidnappings and attempted kidnappings in the Whittier area, particularly at or NEAR CITY PARKS. Police say it is too early in their investigation to link Polanco to those cases, however they are hoping that circulating Polanco's photograph they may identify other possible victims. http://laist.com/2013/03/07/registered_sex_offender_suspected_o.php
Robert Curtis June 28, 2013 at 01:04 AM
Valerie I'm actually glad one person (although without logic or reason) does attempt to place an argument for the sex offender registry and any post facto add on requirements that comes with such laws. The truth is your biggest problem and I understand your challenge to emotionalize outside of reason any and all points to your desired end no matter how foolish they be. I solute those hard vain efforts of yours to make that bag of crap called the sex offender registry look and smell as inviting as possible....but madam it's still a bag of crap!
Valerie Parkhurst July 07, 2013 at 01:11 PM
Coming from someone as yourself Robert I doubt I would expect you to feel differently. Although it does Smell like a ROSE to me.
vahall July 15, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Give it a rest, please and go back in your cage (or swamp). You are far from Lake Forest; keep it that way. The Council of Lake Forest made a mistake - people do that, you know. They acted as prudent civil servants and rectified their error. Slinging mud from North Carolina, and a non-story from Whittier, contributes nothing to these comments. And crap by any other name (even calling it a rose) is still...crap.
Valerie Parkhurst July 15, 2013 at 03:04 PM
ahh Virginia still waiting for your demon seed to get released from prison? Dont ever tell me where to Land Virginia, It will haunt you as you obviously will notice in the next couple of days..
Robert Curtis July 18, 2013 at 08:51 PM
The Sex offender registry is a form of LIVING DEATH and because of that fact it's existence is a slap in the face of God. No Patriot, Christian and Constitutionalist can be for the sex offender registry in any form. That is if they really looked close at what it is and represents. Proverbs 16:25 states, "There is a way to a man that seems Right but the end thereof is the ways of death." The sex offender registry is such a form of death (a Living Death). It by it's very nature is punitive with no ending added measures against a person that otherwise has paid their debt to society. It offers no redemption. It is evil and it is wrong! I would debate any preacher or politician on it's violation of spiritual law (the gospel) and Constitutional law. The debate would be quite non-challenging for me because of truth. That is why most preachers and politicians reframe from such a debate.
Valerie Parkhurst July 21, 2013 at 06:41 AM
Ah hell Robert you almost brought a tear to my eye, almost but not quite..notice not once do you ever mention "vicitms" its always your precious sex offenders.. a living death uh? Too bad its not a literal one
Valerie Parkhurst August 16, 2013 at 02:44 AM
Oh and Robert you have a facebook page which is in violation of Facebook's rules and or some other social media sites. You cant follow the most mundane rules concerning sex offenders, which lends me to believe your probably not complying with much of anything else either.
Valerie Parkhurst August 17, 2013 at 05:16 AM
Gotta love Freaks like Robert Curtis and their contributions to their communities. On Mr. Curtis's restricted facebook page he actually invites a convicted medically disagnosed pedophile out of Vermont to come to California and become a member of RSOL CA. Curtis advertises the support and services RSOL will be able to offer him. and I quote: I heard the guy is headed for California. We in California have a very strong support system that will give him help. Just have the gentleman contact the RSOL CA (Google). The staff there will give him guidance for therapy, work, training and possibly housing. I'm a registered sex offender that's very much involved in doing community service. These professionals are a God sent. Together we can make a difference. Link to information obout the offender: http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Vt-town-concerned-about-sex-offender-4734212.php I am curious if "making a difference" would be supplying Mr. Szad with "blonde hair, blue eyed" disabled little boys??

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