LOMPOC, Calif. - Lompoc is being challenged in federal court over an ordinance passed in 2012 that restricts the movement of registered sex offenders. The lawsuit claims the ordinance is unconstitutional.
Attorney Janice Bellucci is involved with an organization called California Reform Sex Offender Laws. Earlier this week, Bellucci filed the lawsuit against the city of Lompoc.
"The reason that we are challenging it, is we feel that ordinance violates the state and federal constitutions," said Bellucci.
Bellucci says the ordinance goes overboard and is too restrictive.
Under the city ordinance, all registered sex offenders in Lompoc have to abide by additional rules. That includes not loitering near any public place like a park, schools, and even the library. The lawsuit claims that this goes too far, and in some cases it's unconstitutional.
"The Lompoc ordinance violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it prohibits people who are on the registry from going into the public library, and so included in the First Amendment is something called the right of access to information, which of course you find in a public library," said Bellucci.
Lompoc Mayor John Linn says city staff is reviewing the lawsuit and city council will review it and make a decision on how to proceed. The ordinance was adopted in 2012 on police and city attorney recommendation.
"The restrictions are basically to prevent somebody from loitering and stalking," said Linn.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Grover Beach resident Frank Lindsay. Lindsay is one of the 105,00 registered sex offenders in California. In 1979, he was convicted of lewd acts with a child under 14. Lindsay hasn't reoffended since then.
Bellucci believes that many registered sex offenders like Lindsay should be given the same opportunities as everyone else.
"Over 90 percent of those who actually sexually assault a child are not on the registry. In fact, the rate of reoffense according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is 1.8 percent. So only 1.8 percent of the people on the registry will commit a second sex offense," said Bellucci.
Bellucci sent letters to 71 other cities in California with similar ordinances. Currently, 5 of those cities have been sued.