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City of Lake Forest Repeals Sex Offender Ordinance

The City Council of Lake Forest voted 4 to 0 to preliminarily approve the repeal of the sex offender ordinance they adopted unanimously a year ago.  Final approval of the appeal is expected at the Council’s next meeting on December 18.

“The Mayor and City Council of Lake Forest are to be commended for their courage in correcting a mistake they made one year ago,” stated Janice Bellucci, President, California Reform Sex Offender Laws.  “Part of that mistake was reliance upon representations made by the Orange County District Attorney (DA) that the county ordinance, which contained similar language, did not preempt state law or violate the federal constitution.”

Mayor Kathryn McCullough cited potential legal liability as the reason she favored repeal of the ordinance, which prohibits all registrants in the state from visiting the city’s parks.  The city has been sued in federal district court by a registrant who is challenging the ordinance because it violates both the state and federal constitutions.

Before calling for a vote to repeal the ordinance, Mayor McCullough asked the DA to indemnify the city for all costs associated with that and other potential lawsuits related to the ordinance.  In a fiery retort to that question, the DA responded, “”Mayor, you know very well … that the District Attorney does not indemnify cities in carrying out the law.”

City Attorney Scott Smith has estimated the cost of defending that lawsuit at more than $200,000.  City Manager Robert Dunek, in an 11-page staff report, recommended strongly that the city repeal the ordinance for several reasons including the fact that public safety is already protected by other state, county and local safety ordinances and programs.

The City of Lake Forest is one of 16 cities in Orange County that have adopted ordinances that prohibit registrants from entering public parks, beaches and harbors.  One of those cities – Santa Ana – also prohibits registrants from entering the public library.

“Lake Forest is leading the way for other cities within Orange County to correct the mistakes they, too have made, in adopting ordinances that deny the civil rights of more than 100,000 residents in this state while not increasing public safety,” stated Bellucci. 

California RSOL will send letters to the 15 remaining cities informing them of Lake Forest’s decision as well as the court decision that declared the Orange County ordinance to be void.  Those cities, like Lake Forest, have an opportunity to focus taxpayer resources more effectively upon the true source of most sexual assaults on children – family members, teachers, coaches and clergy – through education of parents and other responsible adults.

Media articles describing the Lake Forest City Council meeting can be found online at

http://www.ocregister.com/news/sex-379693-county-city.html
http://lakeforest-ca.patch.com/articles/lake-forest-repeals-park-ban-on-sex-offenders

Join the discussion

  1. RP

    Thank you Janice again !! Our voice Gods Angel. Thank you RSOL and everyone who’s fighting this fight.

    • Janice Bellucci

      You are very welcome! I was proud to stand with 7 others in support of the city’s repeal of this ordinance. It is indeed a night to remember and I believe the beginning of the end of the Orange County ordinances.

  2. Eric Knight

    Here is the transcript of the exchange between Mayor Kathryn McCullough and DA Tony “Ruckus” Rackauckas.

    Lake Forest Mayor Kathryn McCullough: We took the leap on the (marijuana) dispensaries, and we took the whole whack.

    Are you willing to indemnify us from any damages… that might come our way? Right now we have a federal case pending in federal court.

    District Attorney Tony Rackauckas: I think it would be a terrible shame… to let sex offenders win by the filing of a lawsuit.

    McCullough: Maybe you misunderstood something I said.

    Rackauckas: I understood it very well.

    McCullough: My city manager already stated in his opening statements that we already have three or four letters of protection.

    Are you willing tonight to be able to say publicly, on record, that you will indemnify us?

    Rackauckas: You know very well that the district attorney doesn’t indemnify cities to enforce the law. (He accused her of grandstanding).

    McCullough: (My question is) strictly on the face of the lawsuit and they’re strictly saying this is a violation just to have this law.

    Rackauckas: If you lose in federal court, then go ahead and turn tail. But I don’t think it’s right … because you’ve been listening to some threats from some sex offenders.

    McCullough: I think you misjudged where you were. You’re in the city of Lake Forest. And with all due respect—

    Rackauckas: I do not misjudge where I am. I know a disingenuous question when I hear it. And I know where I am.

    McCullough: If you’re not able to indemnify, is the County of Orange?

    Rackauckas: You know the answer of that question, so you can just state it as a fact. You know very well what the answer is.

    McCullough: What am I to say and ask my citizens to give up in order to stay with this ordinance?

    Rackauckas: That this is an ordinance that we put up in good faith, that we have kids, that we have a buffer zone for our kids.

    McCullough: I disagree with you. We have supported you on a couple of ordinances. And at this time I’m not willing to put our city’s future and dollars in an ordinance I cannot assure my citizens that their money will be returned to them. Our citizens already know, our citizens know this is a safe city. (they) know when they came to us about the dispensaries, we took the lead, and we asked your office. And you didn’t step up, and the other cities didn’t stand up either.

    Who’s going to indemnify my city?

    Rackauckas: If one kid gets groomed in a park and molested somewhere else, all the arguments here pale in comparison.

    Yes, the old standby. “If it saves one kid”… of course, nothing said about the damage of children of offenders who are banned from the park in any case.

    • Janice Bellucci

      Thank you for this transcript, Eric. It is important that others know what was said at the Lake Forest City Council meeting. We can only hope that other cities in Orange County hear and understand that the County of Orange will not provide resources to cities in that county when they are sued. It would be wise for cities to repeal their ordinances now, before that happens.

  3. USA

    SURREAL. Its truly amazing how 1-year can make. I mean, last year I began to read about these proposed ordinances and really couldn’t believe they could or would be passed! Then, I would read how the DA would come out to these cities and they were passed? Now, we have the same City Officials/Mayor/Council Members stating how big of a mistake this was and its almost surreal to see how they are now changing their tune when lawsuits are filed? I think its pretty evident the lawsuits will prevail! I believe the victims from all of this are the poor tax payers who will have to suffer due to poor decision makers and those Sex Offenders affected by these unconstitutional laws. Can you imagine what can be done with $200,000K? I’m now awaiting to see the response from cities like Fullerton and Cypress who have instituted or taken these laws a step further with prohibiting sex offenders from living in certain locations within the city? The bottom line is that its becoming increasingly apparent these laws don’t work and if someone wants to break the law, they will. Thank you Janice

  4. Jeff

    “Yes, the old standby. “If it saves one kid”… of course, nothing said about the damage of children of offenders who are banned from the park in any case.”

    Did the Mayor say this?

    That would be simply amazing that a politician was actually looking at both sides.

    Why hasn’t someones child filed a lawsuit? These laws are wrecking their childhood, and I’m sure in 50 years the results will be seen. And society will see what an injustice was done to these children who never ever did anything wrong but be born to an RSO. It really reminds me of a lot of instances in history where people in America were punished for being born with the wrong color skin or the wrong religion. i.e. Native American Indians, Slaves, Japanese during WWll. Those people have been paid Billions of dollars to right the wrongs that they were subjected too. So in 50 years all the survivors born into probation for having a Parent that was an R.S.O. will they be paid as well?

  5. JM

    Jeff,
    No, unfortunately the Mayor did not say it. But, it struck me as though I was watching something out of the movie “A Few Good Men” It was awesome watching her in action.

    Why hasn’t someone’s child filed a lawsuit? Money, and the fact that most people feel powerless. As these children mature, perhaps it will happen sooner than later.

    I stay in this fight primarily because of talking to so many families with children, including my own grandson, and hearing their cries. While trying to protect “one child”, they have destroyed the lives of hundreds by adopting their ordinances and by not considering what is in the best interest of the child given their circumstances based on common sense.

  6. DZ

    Can you also send this to the city of Elk Grove, California? They have the same kind of law preventing registrants from entering parks or even passing near a park or school. The same law that the state has already ruled unconstitutional. If they see this kind of decision and threat maybe they’d do the right thing.

    Thanks

    • Kathy G.

      Just a suggestion, why don’t you send it to them?

      • DZ

        I can, but thought if they see it is sent from an organization that has accomplished victories against such laws it might be taken more seriously than if sent by some guy they don’t deem to be human.

  7. USA

    The bottom line is this. The world needs laws. If it weren’t for laws, people would be killing one another daily and robbing banks! ALthough, these laws are over the top. The idea of prohibiting someone due to a criminal conviction from living in a particular area, visiting certain areas (parks, libraries, beaches) is surreal. In essence, this is something out of a movie. In essence, the DA of Orange County has in a sense created a hysteria with these laws. I mean, if I were the average Joe, I would feel hatred and parhaps fear if I knew my neighbor was a Sex Offender. Lets be honest with one another. If the DA bans these people (my thinking) my parks and beaches, they must be dangerous. Furthermore, the DA and his assistant have clearly provided false and misleading information to those cities passing these troubled laws. Its Time California wakes up. Now, I believe a tier system created that would allow people to eventually get off the Registration is truly needed. We have people convicted of misdemeanors and Summary probation on the Registry? Furthermore, the recent Ca Report regarding the recidivism says it all. All of these recent reports along with the ruling from 3-Orange County Judges should strongly send a message to Sacramento saying that Sex Offenders in the State of California shouldn’t be required to register for LIFE. Its a sign of the TImes.

  8. Tick

    I’m glad there’s some action out there to change these incredibly harsh laws. For those that are interested there is also a petition here: http://wh.gov/Nem6
    that would be nationwide. Make sure you share if you know anyone else who might want to sign.

  9. Pedro

    THIS IS GREAT! Hopefully we will be able to site these rulings and smash this unconstitutional Megan’s Law and lifelong registering. I thank the Lord for this blessing that is coming for all my RSO brothers, sisters and their families who have been suffering because of these terrible laws. I have been waiting for this for over 30 Years. With all these crazy laws and life time registry, they have created a HUGE constituency base of voters and activist and possibly MEGA law suits…Hopefully it will also stop this big panic they have created!!! Can we see the light at the end of tunnel??? Thank you so much Janice, you will be remembered by many in the future. God’s Blessings to all!!!

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