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Sex Offenders Banned From County Parks, Beaches

Sheriff can grant waivers under certain circumstances.

Registered sex offenders will be banned from county-owned parks, harbors and beaches under a law that won final approval Tuesday from the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The measure doesn't affect city-owned parkland.

Scheduled to take effect in 30 days, the new law makes it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to set foot in county-operated recreational areas frequented by children. Violators face up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.

California law bars serious sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of parks. It also restricts them from visiting parks, but only while they are on parole. The county law would extend the restriction on park visits indefinitely and to all registered sex offenders.

Waivers can be made in certain circumstances--such as a sex offender who wants to attend an outdoor wedding, or a county employee with a past sex offense who needs to enter parks for job duties. But such exceptions require written permission from the county sheriff, a clause that was added after .

(The criteria for granting waivers will be determined later by the Sheriff's Department and county attorneys, officials said.)

Jeffrey McBride of Laguna Beach argued against the measure, saying it overzealously punished registered offenders who pose no threat to minors instead of zeroing in on predators. The vast majority of child abuse cases are committed by family members at home, he noted. County Supervisor Shawn Nelson quickly pointed out that McBride is a registered sex offender for possession of obscene material depicting child sex.

Erin Runnion, whose 5-year-old daughter, Samantha, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered by a man who had been acquitted of previous molestation charges, endorsed the law, telling the board, "It will make your children safer."

The measure passed on a unanimous vote.

The new law covers nearly 60,000 acres of county-owned parks, nature preserves, recreational trails, historic sites, harbors and beaches, including: Arroyo Trabuco Park, Irvine Regional Park, Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Mile Square Regional Park, O'Neill Regional Park, the Orange County Zoo, Peters Canyon Regional Park, Santiago Regional Park, Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Caspers Wilderness Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park, Talbert Nature Preserve, Aliso Beach Park, Capistrano Beach Park, Newport Harbor, Salt Creek Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, Dana Point Harbor, Whiting Ranch and Sunset Harbour.

-- City News Service contributed to this report.

HeyWhoIsIt May 04, 2011 at 03:39 AM
I really wish you people would learn the difference between a person who's been arrested for a sex offence and people who are child molesters. It really does make you look quite ignorant.
Michelle May 04, 2011 at 08:00 AM
Virginia what you are doing is a good thing. If you spot a suspisious person checking out kids, you report them. Yes of course I would do the same thing and have done these things. If I saw a person checking out a kid all alone going home or etc. I'm the kind of person that would make sure no harm comes to that child. I do not on the other hand report sex offender living in homes near me, because as HeyWhoIsIt said, we don't know if the person commited a general sex crime or if that person is a true child molester. The registry unfortunately bunches everyone together. Many are not harmful or dangerous. The ones that are caught up in this thing, don't like being sacrifical lambs. They just want to be normal and get on with their lives. These people are the ones I feel bad about. I surprised that as a human being you are not feeling the same.
virginia May 04, 2011 at 12:54 PM
I do understand there are vering levels of all crimes .Thats when addvocates as yourself and others need to be active. A rating scale could be in place 5 for violent tornados. . In the meantime as radical as you want to view this I believe for once we are going forward in favor of childern.Aalways middle ground is favorable , we have let it gone beyond that in this country.The majority is fed up !I can feel the tremor .When that happens things change sometimes drastically thats why we are lucky to have freedom.. And sometimes people from across the Atlantic who view us as barberic need to reflect on the feudilistic dictatorship gtound that has warped the sense of balance.God bless the USA and its childern.Be specific about this law uphold the childern , teach them the line of right and wrong.Using the old ploy the cut down word " ignorant" really exposes someones frustration.. Remember different degrees of all crimes.I suggest if you have someone you feel does'nt fit the catagory spend your energy to change the law for her kind. Laws can be amended .Sorry for those who dont fit the law.But the big picture is where Im at. A little bit of cream can be added- a little bit at a time to a black cupo coffee.Level 5 tornadoes dont like any of this...Get to work on the changes you feel passionate about but as you do, remember always keep and uphold what is important The innocent- for me the childern- hopeful you will to.
Robert Curtis May 25, 2014 at 09:48 PM
Who’s children were put at risk? The registrant’s child was by not allowing their first line of protection (their parents) to be there for them. Kids often get hurt in parks. Thank God those children by chance didn’t get hurt during the time these horrible, evil punitive measures were in place! Tony Rackauckas used the registrants as his whipping boy for votes to get re-elected. That is not an uncommon thing for politicians but to do so by putting children at risk is beyond belief and itself should be criminal. I think it is vitally important to define to these leaders what harm is more likely to take place in a park. Has there been any history of registrants harming children in parks? No? But there has been history of children sometimes being hurt in parks whether that be by falling from a tree or choking on a hot dog. A registrant’s child isn’t good enough to be protected by their parent because of their parent’s status. That ladies and gentlemen is wrong at the most basic level. About the sheriff’s waiver program…what about the term Law ENFORCEMENT agency allows them to give registered sex offenders a pass to break the law? It’s remiss of their position to do such a thing. TRUTH
Karen Rubin May 26, 2014 at 05:52 PM
So what if "sex offenders" are being put in the same registry as child molesters. They deserve to be. They used poor judgement and committed a crime of a sexual nature for their own gratification. DISGUSTING!! Most of these perverts are men who prey on girls under 18 years of age. Having been sexually assaulted myself at the age of 13 I speak from experience. Any loser who commits a sexually related crime deserves to live with the consequences of being branded for life.

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