[UPDATED with Ban Approved:] Laguna Hills is Latest City to Prohibit Pervs from Parks

Categories: Crime-iny
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UPDATE, NOV. 23, 8:28 A.M.: The Laguna Hills City Council on Tuesday night approved on first reading an ordinance banning registered sex offenders from city parks and, if homeowner associations request to join in, their private parks as well.

The city will join La Habra, Westminster, Yorba Linda, Huntington Beach and Los Alamitos in enacting ordinances tailored after the original County of Orange ban that was adopted in April. Irvine passed an ordinance that only targets sex offenders who have preyed on children.

Other Orange County cities are considering ordinances, usually at the behest of the district attorney's office.

The Laguna Hills ordinance will become effective 30 days after it is approved on second reading on Dec. 13.

UPDATE, NOV. 9, 12:57 P.M.: The Laguna Hills City Council tonight will consider approving on first reading an ordinance that would ban registered sex offenders from city parks.

Susan Kang Schroeder, the district attorney's chief of staff, is scheduled to appear before the council to advocate passage of the measure that brings a misdemeanor counts, fines and possible jail time to known perverts who enter local parks without first getting permission from law enforcement.

The council previously voted unanimously to have its staff bring such an ordinance before it. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 24035 El Toro Road, Laguna Hills.

UPDATE, NOV. 9, 12:57 P.M.: A unanimous Laguna Hills City Council voted Tuesday night to have staff bring back before it Nov. 22 the first reading of an ordinance to ban registered sex offenders from city parks.

The full panel, including Joel Lautenschleger, a councilman who'd previously appeared on the fence about a ban, directed staffers to model their law after the county ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to enter a regional recreational area where children regularly gather unless they have permission from the sheriff's department.

A city staff report shows eight registered sex offenders currently live in Laguna Hills, with six of those having been convicted for offenses against minors.

Laguna Hills has 15 city parks and 14 owned by private homeowner associations.

ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 8, 3:40 P.M.: Last night, a divided Huntington Beach City Council joined La Habra, Westminster, Los Alamitos and the County of Orange in passing an ordinance preventing registered sex offenders from entering municipal parks unless they first receive permission from law enforcement. In Irvine, such a misdemeanor law applies only to those who preyed on children.

Tonight, the Laguna Hills City Council considers a ban of its own, but there is an odd twist when it comes to consideration in that South County town.

As the Weekly previously reported, Laguna Hills City Councilman Joel Lautenschleger is the father-in-law of swim instructor Todd Robert Sousa, who was sentenced Oct. 28 to 16 months in state prison for having an unlawful sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl.


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Todd Robert Sousa
The 37-year-old Sousa, who is married and has children with Lautenschleger's daughter Jill (they reportedly separated after his arrest), must also register as a sex offender, meaning he's banned from parks in jurisdictions that have passed ordinances, including the city where he resides, Irvine.

Sousa pleaded innocent at his March arraignment, when he was looking at up to 13 years in state prison with a conviction on multiple felony and misdemeanor charges. He changed his plea to guilty on Oct. 28.

A month earlier, the proposal for a sex offender ordinance first went before the Laguna Hills City Council and, according to a recording of that meeting, Lautenschleger said he didn't see the need to pass an ordinance because there is no evidence that sex offenders congregate in city parks.

"What is the problem we're trying to solve here with an ordinance?" asked Lautenschleger, who co-chaired the successful drive to incorporate the city in March 1991, was elected to the first city council and served as mayor in 1995, 2000, 2004 and 2009. "It is a solution looking for a problem."

Actually, government statistics show 161 sex offenders have been arrested in Laguna Hills since 2000. And Lautenschleger told his gathered council colleagues, city staff and audience members that late September night that he fears convicted sex offenders might sue the city on constitutional grounds if an ordinance banning them from parks is adopted.

"We are not just running into legal ramifications here with the county, with constitutional arguments against the Fourth Amendment," Lautenschleger said. "You know, your right to assemble, right to do things. But you're running the risk of being liable as a city in doing something like this."

In other words, the city might be forced to pay someone like his son-in-law if they lost a judgment based on the ordinance in court.
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12 comments
Guest
Guest

How can Mr. Lautenslager comment "that nothing in the proposed county ordinance would have any influence or bearing in the circumstances involving my son-in-law."  It will directly affect his son-in-law (and their family).  And is anyone else disturbed that his daughter has not divorced the child molester, and he still refers to him as a family member?  What's wrong with this picture??

Guest
Guest

"Actually, government statistics show 161 sex offenders have been arrested in Laguna Hills since 2000." - where might one find out more about that statistic? What have they been arrested for? How many were formally charged? How many convicted?

mitch young
mitch young

Dude, this is the OC Weekly's throwaway blog. 161 could be 16.1, or 6... or 1. Take any figures posted here with a shaker of salt.

Matthew T. Coker
Matthew T. Coker

Maybe this will help you, from the staff report presented last night: 8 registered sex offenders currently live in the city, 6 of whom have been convicted of offenses against minors. On the HOA front, Laguna Hills has 15 city parks and 14 privately owned by the associations.

mitch young
mitch young

Actually I am (was, really) more of a Bang Bus guy -- luv luv luv them Miami Latinas. 

mitch young
mitch young

Did I say I hated it? I like watching a few minutes of Real Housewives (OC or NJ), but when I do I realize that I'm not watching masterpiece theatre.

Guest
Guest

Thank you for clarifying.... but given the fact that you jump all over every SO creep who gets arrested in the greater OC area with a witty headline and clever graphic, there is nothing that seems out of whack with this "Government" Statistic?

161 in 10 years, or 16 Sex Offenders arrested every single year in a city of what - 30,000? If the same were true for all of OC and its population of 3 Million (would be likely worse - LH is probably one of the 'nicer' cities) - that would come out to 1,610 arrests per year or 16,100 arrested sex offenders over 10 years. There are 1,866 people on the public registry.

This is simple math one can do in ones head. I did, and perhaps I did it wrong. At least I tried. Do we have a thinking cap, or is Predator Panic just too much fun?

Matthew T. Coker
Matthew T. Coker

The 161 figure came from the Orange County District Attorney's office. I don't know how many were ultimately convicted.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Mitchie would have nothing to do other than sit around in his Klan robe jerking off to images of Barbara Coe if it wasn't for us, Matt, so be considerate!

Guest
Guest

If you are replying to 'Guest' from the very first comment, no, your answer does NOT help. The data you provide have nothing to do with the question of where the statistic that "161 sex offenders have been arrested in Laguna Hills since 2000" comes from.  And even less to do with the follow up questions. I assume you are fact checking before publishing - so providing the source of this statistic should be a piece of cake. It being a Government Statistic and all. Thanks.

Matthew T. Coker
Matthew T. Coker

Oh, and Mitch: for someone who hates this "throwaway blog," you spend more time on it than I do. 

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