Huachuca City faces possible lawsuit over new sex-offender lawPosted:
Nov 15, 2011 11:44 PM EST
<em>Tuesday, November 15, 2011 11:44 PM EST</em>Updated:
Nov 16, 2011 4:39 PM EST
<em>Wednesday, November 16, 2011 4:39 PM EST</em>
In a letter sent to the town’s mayor last week, Dan Pachoda, the legal director of the ACLU of Arizona said the law was unconstitutional.
In an interview with KOLD News 13, Huachuca City mayor Byron Robertson said he had no regrets.
“As a council and a community we’re 100% committed behind this ordinance,” said Robertson.
The small town had made a big move by becoming the first city in Arizona to pass an ordinance banning sex offenders from parks, pools, and even the local library.
The ordinance did allow registered sex offenders to drop off and pick up their kids from school, or stop and talk to the school nurse or teacher about their children.
The letter from the ACLU to Mayor Byron Robertson stated: “Huachuca City should consider less restrictive means to accomplish the presumed goals of the ordinance. Public safety and constitutional rights should not be at odds.”
KOLD News 13 visited the home of a convicted child molester who requested not to be identified. He said he was glad the ACLU had taken action.
“That’s a loss of freedom. It’s too much power for them,” said the registered sex offender.
The ACLU letter also stated that Huachuca City wanted to punish sex offenders with no regard for federal law.
They point to comments made to KOLD news 13 during an interview on September 25th, by Huachuca City police chief Dennis Grey.
The letter states: “Police Chief Grey expressed his desire to put offenders on a desert island and blow it up.”
They also pointed out a comment made by Huachuca City Councilman Ken Taylor on September 25th.
“Ken Taylor expressed his belief that the individuals targeted by the ordinance do not have any constitutional rights”
The ACLU letter goes on to say: “These statements are troubling and suggest that Huachuca City is not concerned with the constitutionality of enacting such a sweeping legislation.”
Chief Gray was on medical leave, and not available for a comment today, but KOLD News 13 did catch up with Councilman Taylor who said, he had concerns about this ordinance to begin with.
“I don’t remember if I voted for it or not but I during the council meeting I spoke out about it saying it could easily be challenged. I can’t remember, I believe I may have voted for it, but I believe the ordinance is too loose and the wording needs to be corrected,” said Taylor.
The Mayor felt the ordinance was necessary because there were too many repeat offenders out there.
“You don’t know they’re repeat until the choice is presented to them,” said Robertson.
The registered sex offender who spoke to KOLD News 13 said, the law was too harsh. He had already been punished for the crime by spending three years in jail.
“All I did was put my arm around someone. A child, at church. It’s a mental illness in not being satisfied, things like that,” said the registered sex offender.
The ACLU strongly urges Huachuca City to repeal the ban and suspend enforcement of it immediately, otherwise be prepared to fight it in court.
Huachuca City officials said to date, no sex offender had been cited or violating the ordinance, but they would be prepared to defend it in court, if necessary.
The first offense for violating the ordinance is a $100 fine, the second time around it will be a misdemeanor crime.
The town of Buckeye, Arizona and Los Alamitos, California are taking Huachuca City’s example and enforcing similar ordinances.
The city of Irvine in Orange County, California also passed a law banning sex offenders from public parks in April, 2011.