NATIONAL CITY, Calif. — National City officials will repeal an ordinance designed to protect children against registered sex offenders.
The ordinance required all registered sex offenders to stay at least 300 feet away from places where children gathered, including playgrounds and libraries.
The city’s ordinance was found to be preemptive to existing state law.
“We’re in contradiction with state law as it exists today,” said Ron Morrison, National City Mayor.
Earlier this year registered sex offender, Frank Lindsay, 61, filed a lawsuit against the city claiming the ordinance kept him from visiting family in National City and therefore violated his constitutional rights.
The court ruled in his favor, stating that current state law already restricts sex offenders and that local ordinances aiming to do the same thing shouldn’t be enforced.
“The fact is they’re looking in the wrong direction,” said Lindsay’s attorney, Janice Bellucci.
“You know most of the people — I’m talking about more than 90 percent of the people who sexually assault children are not on the [sex offender] registry and instead they are members of their family, they’re their teachers, the coaches, the clergy — those are the folks who in fact are committing sexual assault,” said Bellucci, who has taken similar legal action against dozens of other cities across California.
But Morrison doesn’t believe state law offers enough protections for families and their children.
“They’re protecting people from where predatory sex offenders live but not where they hang out,” Morrison said.
City officials now plan to push for legislation at the state level to give cities more authority when it comes to restricting registered sex offenders.