Jul 28, 2014

Lake Forest Repeals Sex Offender Ban

With new City Council members dissenting, officials give final approval to reversing their year-old ban on registered sex offenders in Lake Forest parks.

Lake Forest Repeals Sex Offender Ban

Worried that a year-old ban on registered sex offenders in local parks wouldn't hold up in court, Lake Forest's City Council voted Tuesday to repeal the law.

In a 3-2 decision, the council officially undid the measure, which had been on the books since last December and prohibited registered sex offenders from entering city parks.

The law was stricter than the one it was modeled after, a county measure penned by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and County Supervisor Shawn Nelson.

The move put the council in the unusual position of saying it was either wrong to enact the ban in the first place or unwilling to defend it. Mayor Kathryn McCullough and Councilmen Scott Voigts and Peter Herzog voted to repeal the law.

The council's two newly elected members, Dwight Robinson and Adam Nick, voted to keep it.

At the council meeting the ban, citing the financial hit the city would take defending itself against lawsuits.

About half the cities in Orange County have enacted similar laws at the request of Rackauckas. However, the county's law suffered a setback when an appeals court overturned the conviction of Hugo Godinez for entering Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley.

In that case, an Orange County appellate panel said the county ban was superseded by a less restrictive state law.

Cty Attorney Scott C. Smith said keeping Lake Forest's law would cost at least $200,000 in legal fees to defend, and that's if the city won in court. Losing could bring penalties, including paying the legal costs of the sex offenders who challenged the ban.

Don’t miss updates from Patch!