One of the platforms that Irvine Republicans ran on in November’s election was how Council member Larry Agran weakened a county ordinance to protect kids in Irvine’s park against child sexual predators and child pornographers complete with a nasty hit piece with a photo of a hooded pervert stalking little kids. That pervert was later revealed to be political communicator Jim Bieber in Frank Mickadeit’s piece on election night (and why Frank would cheer a piece that painted a picture of unsafe Irvine parks is beyond me).
And Republicans savaged OC DA Tony Rackauckas for doing a robocall to say there was no such problem of sexual predators in Orange County much less Irvine. And Republicans jumped down Rackauckas’ throat for the crime of disputing what they said about Agran and company.
Last week, with only one arrest under this ordinance in Irvine, an Orange County Superior Court struck down Irvine’s ordinance as unconstitutional.
In an email received by OC Weekly, the details showed:
Everett Dickey, Judge of the Superior Court, sustained the demurrer to the Irvine ordinance on all grounds – preemption, vagueness, and overbreadth. The complaint against Mr. Nguyen charging him with a violation of Irvine’s Child Safety Zone ordinance was DISMISSED.
In sum, on November 27, 2012, the Superior Court of Orange County ruled that Irvine’s Child Safety Zone ordinance is void and unenforceable because it is unconstitutional and the subject area (sex offenders) is preempted by State Law. Judge Dickey agreed with all of the legal arguments raised by Mr. Nguyen.
Judge Dickey’s ruling is wholly consistent with the November 15, 2012, ruling of the Appellate Division of the Superior Court in which the Appellate Division determined that the similar County of Orange Ordinance is void. (see, Superior Court file People v. Godinez, case number 30-2011-00530069] and OC Weeklyarticle “[UPDATED with OCDA Reaction:] Orange County Pervs-in-Parks Ban Violates State Constitution: Judicial Panel)”)
It should be noted that Judge Dickey’s ruling is likewise consistent with the Superior Court ruling in People v. Randolph Carr, case number 12CM05955, declaring Tustin’s similar park ordinance unconstitutional.
According to an August report by NCMEC, Prevent Abuse Now, Criminal Justice Agency, even if the County’s and Irvine’s ordinance were constitutional, it covers a small sector of child sexual predators actually prey on new victims.
- The average re-conviction rate for a child molester is 20 percent
- California isn’t among the top eight states with the highest rate of sex offenders
- 60 percent of sexually molested boys were molested by someone they knew
- 80 percent of sexually molested girls were molested by someone they knew.
The proliferation of such restrictions reflects the continued concerns of parents and lawmakers about potential recidivism among sex offenders. But it has also increasingly raised questions about their effectiveness, as well as their fairness.
Opponents have dismissed “child safety zones” as unenforceable, saying they are designed to make politicians look tough on crime and drive sex offenders from the area, not make children safer.
“These are cheap laws that can be passed to make people feel good,” said Charles P. Ewing, author of “Justice Perverted: Sex Offense Law, Psychology, and Public Policy.”
Irene Pai, a lawyer with the Orange County public defender’s office, said “child safety zones” give parents a false sense of security, punishing many offenders who are not dangerous without actually stopping predators from entering parks.
Ms. Pai said she had a stack of cases involving people who were arrested for urinating in public in the 1970s and pleaded guilty to indecent exposure without realizing they would have to register as sex offenders.
“The very notion that a park ordinance could in any way protect children, more than an attentive caregiver’s presence or any other way we protect our children, is absurd,” she said.