Today a lawsuit was filed in federal district court challenging a city law that requires sex offenders (“registrants”) on Halloween to post a sign on the front door of their homes, to refrain from decorating their homes, to extinguish all lights outside their homes and to refrain from answering the door to trick-or-treaters. The lawsuit asserts that the law, adopted by Simi Valley law, violates the federal and state constitutions and requests that the court block enforcement of that ordinance.
There are a total of four plaintiffs in the case, including one registrant, his mother, his brother and his daughter. All four plaintiffs are residents of the same home in Simi Valley.
“Not only is the City of Simi Valley violating the federal and state constitutions, its actions are inconsistent with a federal court’s ruling issued five years ago,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “In that decision, a U.S. District Court judge concluded that the same requirement violated the First Amendment and placed registrants and their families in danger on Halloween night.”
The stated purpose of the Simi Valley ordinance is to “protect children from the dangers posed by registered sex offenders convicted of offenses against minors” on Halloween. However, there are no reported cases of a child being assaulted while trick or treating by a registered sex offender on Halloween in the state of California.
A 2009 study, “How safe are trick-or-treaters” concluded that the findings of a 9-year review “suggest that Halloween policies may in fact be targeting a new urban myth similar to past myths warning of tainted treats.” The contents of the study, conducted by nationally recognized expert Jill Levenson and others, can be found online at http://sax.sagepub.com/content/21/3/363.abstract.
Related (with link to complaint)