Wednesday, May 25 , 2016, 5:46 pm | Partly Cloudy 68º

Ron Fink: Should Sexual Predators Be Allowed Access to Our Children?

By Ron Fink |

Recently, many local governments have had to revisit and modify ordinances that they had adopted concerning where child molesters, pedophiles and/or other sexual predators could live and hang out. This was after a small group of misguided do-gooders decided that they were much more adept than local government at determining where these deviants should live.

The Lompoc city attorney's staff report on July 15 said: “In the 1990s, federal and state legislatures enacted various laws intended to protect minors from registered sex offenders. At the federal level, this legislation includes Megan’s Law, which was adopted in 1996 and created a nationwide sex offender registry. At the state level, the California Legislature adopted a series of regulations on the day-to-day lives of registered sex offenders, including a voter-approved measure known as Jessica’s Law.”

The state regulates the residency of registered sex offenders and specifically prohibits registered sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of a school or park. The state also regulates loitering by registered sex offenders and provides that any registrant who “loiters about any school or public place at or near which children attend or normally congregate” is guilty of a misdemeanor.

The residency restriction is being reviewed by state courts.

So, the Lompoc City Council sought to clearly define the loitering/congregating restrictions, and in 2012 it approved an ordinance — primarily to give police firm enforcement guidelines — that restricted convicted sex offenders from loitering or temporarily residing within 300 feet of a child care center, public or private school, park, an establishment that provides a children’s play area or a public library.

There were other conditions that further defined where sex offenders could live and congregate, and it was these clear definitions that bothered a few people — most of whom lived elsewhere.

These folks didn’t like the rules that Lompoc and other local governments approved, and following lawsuits initiated by a convicted sex offender, California courts made some decisions regarding the ability of local government to establish sex offender rules. Two published decisions determined that state law preempted municipalities from adopting ordinances prohibiting sex offenders from entering local parks.

Our kids and grandkids play in public parks and are now being subjected to a higher level of risk because of the illogical decisions of the California judiciary.

Pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 or younger. Treatment of this disorder is largely dependent of the pedophile's acceptance of the treatment protocol — if they fail to follow doctors’ orders, they could submit to their urges and reoffend. And, when they are allowed to congregate with other pedophiles and/or visit places where their victims visit, then there can be both the means and motivation to attack their young victims.

According to the Megan’s Law database, there are 53 registered sex offenders currently living in and around Lompoc; some are listed as transients, some have addresses at the federal prison, but most live in the city limits. You can view their criminal history and find their addresses on the Megan’s Law website by clicking here.

Changing the rules to reduce the restrictions didn’t seem to raise much public concern since only three people spoke during the Lompoc City Council meeting, and they generally supported the changes. Of course, how could anyone dispute the changes since they were essentially directed by court decisions?

None of the council members wanted to make the motion to approve the staff recommendation, so after making the motion, the vote was taken and then Mayor John Linn, speaking for many of us in the community, said of the 5-0 vote: “Universally, we understand (why we have to make these changes), but we don’t have to like it.”

It’s a sad day in our society when a very small group of people, many of whom have been convicted of “lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age,” can legally be allowed to expose the most vulnerable in our society to serious mental and physical harm.

Every parent and grandparent must remain vigilant by first reviewing the Megan’s Law website. Then, don’t allow your children or grandchildren out of your sight, teach them not to engage in lengthy conversations with people they don’t know, pay attention to who is around you, and if strangers take an unusual interest in your child or grandchild, move away. If they make an overt move to contact your child, call the police.

Since the judiciary doesn’t have an interest in protecting innocent children from the menace of child molesters, pedophiles and/or other sexual predators, I guess it’s up to us to help ourselves.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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