Laguna Hills Adopts Law Banning Sex Offenders Like Councilman's Son-in-Law From Parks

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Joel Lautenschleger
Laguna Hills City Councilman Joel Lautenschleger, who'd previously appeared on the fence about a ban on sex offenders in local parks, joined his council colleagues in unanimously approving the second reading of such an ordinance Tuesday night.

The ban, which is modeled after the county's, goes into effect in 30 days.

The city ordinance creates a "Child Safety Zone" that prevents registered sex offenders from gathering in city parks unless they first receive permission from the sheriff's department, which patrols Laguna Hills. The law also mandates signs in individual parks informing the public about the ordinance. Violators face fines and possible jail time.

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Sousa
As the Weekly previous reported, Lautenschleger cited constitutional concerns and whether such an ordinance was even needed in Laguna Hills at a council meeting in September, when city staff was directed to investigate the issues further and bring back a recommendation later.

A month later, Lautenschleger's son-in-law, Todd Robert Sousa, pleaded guilty to having an unlawful sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl and was to 16 months in state prison.

Lautenschleger told the Weekly his concerns about the ordinance had nothing to do with the Sousa case and, sure enough, the councilman joined Mayor L. Allan Songstad Jr. and council colleagues Melody Carruth, Barbara Kogerman and Randal Bressette in voting unanimously for passage of the ban on first reading Nov. 22 and again on second reading Tuesday.

Passage means Sousa, a club and high school swim coach, cannot enter parks in Laguna Hills or the city of his residence, Irvine, without the permission of law enforcement. Irvine passed a ban that applies only to sex offenders who have been convicted of preying on children.

On Dec. 6, Yorba Linda adopted a ban modeled after the county's full ban on second reading and Lake Forest approved its on first reading. Huntington Beach, La Habra, Los Alamitos and Westminster previously enacted their own ordinances that are like the county's. Other cities considering bans include Brea, Anaheim, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Juan Capistrano and Seal Beach.

Lautenschleger is not the only person in Orange County or even out-of-state to have debated whether these ordinances will ultimately stand up to the U.S. Constitution. Supporters have minimized such legal concerns and, for now, Orange County is bully on banning pervs from parks, with District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson having led the charge since the county in April enacted the ordinance they drafted for regional parks and attractions.

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4 comments
Lance Mitaro
Lance Mitaro

The sex offender registry is an unnecessary evil that protects no one and doesn't prevent crime; wastes tax dollars and offers the illusion of public safety and awareness. Billions wasted! What a national disgrace of wreck-less spending with a zero cost-benefit return other than security theater. 

Zebrastand
Zebrastand

Are cities or the county of orange still using tax dollars to pay for hotel/motel rooms? There are often families with children in these places, but no notice is given to those staying there. FACT!

Paul Lucas
Paul Lucas

I got to admi. this issue kind of confuses me. I have always been under the im;pression that sex offenders were pretty much banned for life from places where choldrwn are expected to gathe such as parks. I first thought that when these stories started popping up that the councios have pretty much ran out of shit to do to make themselves look like theyre doing something meaningful. can anyone enlighten me?  I always thought that sex offenders were banned from places that are sensitive use areas such as playgrounds parks schools etc. Am I wrong on this one? Cause they shold be abnned from these places.

fixithair
fixithair

@Paul Lucas There is more involved here than the simple expulsion of registered citizens from parks and beaches.  It's a human rights issue as well as a constitutional one.   The fact of asking a Law ENFORCEMENT agency to give registered sex offenders a waiver to break the law is a bad joke what part of the words "law enforcement" allows for such a thing?  These registrants after going through the grinder of probation, therapy and time served are safe members of society.  Has there ever been a history of a registrant violating children in a park?  No?  One truth is 90% of sex offenses against children happen in their homes and amongst family members and friends of family members.  With that truth should we out-law families from going to parks and beaches?

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