Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FL - San Antonio considers new sexual predator ordinance

Original Article



SAN ANTONIO - City Commissioners agree they want to keep sexual predators from moving into their quaint, rural community. But they haven't settled on the best way to do it.

Commissioners asked their new attorney, Gerald Burh, to rewrite a proposed ordinance that would set new limits restricting how far registered sex offenders can live from places children congregate -- schools, school bus stops, day care centers, playgrounds and churches.

State law already prohibits certain types of sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of such places. "You have the right to exceed the state statute," Buhr said, "but it would be less safe to pass one that totally excludes sexual predators from the city."

The draft ordinance included a 2,500-foot buffer from all school bus stops – a clause that would likely render the entire city off limits.

"I'd like to see 5,000 feet," Mayor Roy Pierce said. "But I understand the downside of going to that extreme."

Commissioners Sharon Madden and Heiskell Christmas said a more moderate approach would be just as effective and less likely to draw a legal challenge.

"I think we're covered if we (include) churches and bus stops at 1,000 feet and everything else at 1,500 feet," Madden said.

Pierce said he's less concerned about the legal liability, especially since more than 60 municipalities in Florida already have enacted ordinances that expand the distance up up to 2,500 feet.

"If it prevents one sexual offender from moving into a neighborhood, and if it prevents one kid from being abused, then it's worth it," Pierce said.

San Antonio, with a population of about 1,000 people, has only one registered sex offender, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement registry. Anyone already living in the city could not be displaced by the new ordinance but they could be forced to move after their lease expires.

Zephyrhills considered a 2,500-foot buffer in 2006 but decided against it, as did Tampa in 2008.

CA - Sex offender's sister: 'He's not a monster'

Original Article



The sister of a paroled sex offender who will live in Orange County defended his name Wednesday, saying he was an innocent man wrongly convicted of the kidnapping and brutal sexual assaults of two young girls in Santa Ana.

[name withheld], the only sibling of [name withheld], 52, said people have nothing to fear from her brother, who was scheduled to be released on parole from Chino State Prison Wednesday and is expected to reside in Santa Ana, Irvine or Tustin.

[name withheld], 53, who lives in Utah, said her brother has been unfairly maligned by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, whose agency held a news conference Tuesday to warn the public of [name withheld]'s release. She worried that her brother would be harmed because of "the media frenzy."

"The man is not violent. He does not have a violent bone in his body,'' [name withheld] said.

"Please do not judge him,'' [name withheld] said, in an appeal to the public. "He's not a monster. He's not a boogie man like they say. He just wants to go on with his life."

[name withheld], 52, served 25 years of a 49-year sentence after being convicted in 1985 for two separate but similar crimes: the kidnapping and sexual assaults of girls, ages 7 and 8, in Santa Ana in 1983. He was sentenced to 49 years in prison, but was able to serve half the sentence because of credit for good behavior.

[name withheld] unsuccessfully appealed his conviction all the way to the state Supreme Court.

He still maintains his innocence, and filed a request with the Orange County prosecutors in March, asking them to re-examine evidence, Rackauckas said during the news conference.

Prosecutors did a re-examination of the rape kits from the two crimes. Many items were decomposed and couldn't be forensically examined, but [name withheld]'s DNA was found on one of the victim's underwear, Rackauckas said.

[name withheld] said she and her family support [name withheld], whom they believe was convicted because of a faulty police investigation and incompetent counsel. She doubts the findings of the DNA report cited by Rackauckas, and instead believes an earlier report that she says was inconclusive.

[name withheld] last saw her brother in May, when he was briefly paroled for 10 days in Orange County. He was later re-arrested for violating his parole for failing to charge the battery of his GPS tracking device.

[name withheld] and her brother stayed in motels since [name withheld] couldn't stay at the Tustin home of their friend, [name withheld], because of Jessica's Law (PDF), which dictates a convicted sex offender can't live near a park or school.

Tustin police planned to distribute flyers around [name withheld]'s neighborhood Wednesday evening warning residents about [name withheld].

[name withheld] has had media camped outside her house since Tuesday, when her address was revealed at the District Attorney's news conference.

"I was just as shocked as (the neighbors) were when I learned my address was on the news," [name withheld] said. "I had no clue."

She said she doesn't intend to let [name withheld] stay at her home.

"I want the neighborhood to feel safe," [name withheld] said. "You don't have to lock up your children. He will not be here. He was never scheduled to be here."

[name withheld] hopes to move her brother to Utah – but doesn't know if his parole officers will let him relocate. [name withheld]'s city of residence won't be known until he registers with a police department no later than five business days from the date of release.

"I would just like to find him a place where he is going to be safe,'' [name withheld] said.