California Judge Enjoins Warning Sign Law For Sex Offenders on Halloween While Continuing Ban On Decorating or Opening Homes of Ex-Sex Offenders

Judge Perry Anderson of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has issued a notable injunction in Simi Valley to prevent the city from enforcing a law requiring convicted sex offenders from having to post signs to warn away trick-or-treaters.

The new law was set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. today but Anderson notably did not block portions of the law that prevented sex offenders from turning on outside lights, decorating their homes, and answering their doors to trick-or-treaters.

The required sign read: sign “No candy or treats at this residence.”

The judge found that the sign provision constituted a type of Halloween scarlet letter and “the public interest is not served — indeed it is undermined — by enforcement of an unconstitutional law singling out a discrete, outcast group to speak in such a way that their persons, property and loved ones may be endangered.”

Part of the criticism of the law is that it does not allow these former offenders to return to society and does not consider the very broad definition of sex offenses — which often do not involve children. Indeed, reports indicate that there are only 119 registered sex offenders who live in Simi Valley and many are guilty of misdemeanors. While 67 have been guilty of more serious crimes, none involved in crimes involving children on Halloween. There are no records of any such crime occurring in Simi Valley during Halloween trick-or-treating.

The lawsuit involves five registered sex offenders, three of their wives and two of their children who want to participate in the annual celebration.

What do you think?

Source: LA Times

20 thoughts on “California Judge Enjoins Warning Sign Law For Sex Offenders on Halloween While Continuing Ban On Decorating or Opening Homes of Ex-Sex Offenders”

  1. People dont realize that you can be in college or high school. B.a. (bare a%%) some one n if ur reported u can become a registered sex offender.if u r convtced for someone its cosidered a registering offense. But most of the ones that say “she was 17 or i thought she was 18 or my ex made the kids say it ) which they all day r 99% of the time just lying….

  2. Shana, sexual abuse of children is much more common inSIDE people’s homes and among their own families on Halloween night (and every other night) than outsiders’ children ever experience. It is not the stranger or the candy-giver who is the danger, it is older male relatives within the family or close friends or clergy or coaches or teachers or those in trusted authority roles, well known to the kids. But statistics do not influence people; broadcasting fears does.

  3. I have a good friend who lives in a stately old mansion next to the largest cemetery in his city. His house sits back in the trees just a short distance from the road. He says that since his wife inherited the house, they have never had a trick or treater. They have lived there since shortly after he came back from Vietnam. Nobody comes to his door, even though he leaves the porch light on.

    It’s a mystery.

  4. Any parent who allows their children to go out alone, in today’s world, to trick or treat, should be arrested themselves…..

  5. Sex offenders have the lowest recidivism rate of all criminals except murderers, according to dozens of university, federal and state studies. Not all sex offenders have victimized children, and over 1/3 of sex crimes perpetrated against children are committed by other children. 95% of kids are abused by family or friends who aren’t on the registry. Dr. Jill Levenson’s 2009 study, “How Safe are Trick-or-Treaters: Child Sex Crime Rates on Halloween?” found that non-familial child sexual abuse accounted for less than .2% on Halloween. Why is law enforcement spreading such glaring myths, and why is the media latching on??

  6. Darren, The kids are just a bit safer w/ the Grand Theft Auto dudes off the street!

  7. The problems are the lists and the legal definitions. Statutory rape is problematic and requires the use of a prosecutor’s discretion: 15yr. old and a 28yr old is way different than a 15yr old and a 16-17-18yr old. Kay is right about that. Downloading porn that isn’t obviously child porn should not land you on a list or charged with a sex crime IMO. Being young and stupid or liking porn shouldn’t brand you as a sex offender and ruin your life.

  8. The chance of a child being hit by a car during halloween is probably higher than being molested.

  9. Given how often Halloween is used as an excuse for vandalism (re: “hell night” in Detroit), I have to begrudgingly agree with the judge. When you add in the anonymity of costumes and the number of people out late at night on October 31 (as well as the public’s attitude toward sex offenders), vigilantism would be inevitable if “sex offender here!” signs were put in front of their homes.

    If the law required that sex offenders have no decorations, have no lights that might encourage visitors, and not answer the door to children, the registered offenders and their houses could be checked quietly from a distance by investigators without attracting or inciting violence against them. If there were any decorations that attract kids, the police could be called to arrest the person.

    Just because someone is the lowest of the low doesn’t mean they – and the people they live with – don’t get the protection of the law. I found the following news item easily (along with many others) of a home destroyed by arsonists where a sex offender and his relatives lived in it. Or are idiots going to say the relatives forfeit their legal rights and protections by allowing someone to live in their home?

  10. It seems like every location or mapping app on my iphone includes icons for their registered address, so I am not sure if it is really necessary, and might simply be too blatantly disruptive and perhaps unreasonably discriminating.
    And of course it complicates my life because I already post a sign saying no candy or treats at this residence for minors, or female adults not dressed in demonic lingerie accentuated with whips and cuffs.

  11. I guess a sheriff would not bother to knock on a door of a sex offender on Halloween to serve papers. Bang, bang bang…open up we are the police! No you are not. You are halloweeners.
    No its me Dave man, open up the cops are coming.
    Daves not here man.
    No. I’m Dave. Bang Bang …

    -Cheech and Chong.

  12. Malisha, I wouldn’t say the registry is useless but you are correct about predators preying upon family, friends and neighbors. Because of the preying upon neighbors, I believe the registry is warranted.

  13. I saw a big sex abuse case from Simi Valley. The alleged perp was an LA firefighter. FOUR KIDS claimed they were molested by him but he did a pre-2010 Sandusky on them and nobody listened to the kids so you can go to his house for candy any time. That registry is useless. Most molesters keep it in the family and never get busted.

  14. The lawsuit involves five registered sex offenders, three of their wives and two of their children who want to participate in the annual celebration.

    What do you think?

    Legislating morality is tough work.

    Legislating in the wake of a lack of morality is likewise tough work.

    The judge did right by trying not to punish the offenders’ families for what the offender did.

    JT makes a good point about the lack of context in Simi Valley for such a statute.

  15. Tough one. I would not loose any sleep if the Scarlet Letter was enforced. However, parents should accompany their kids and that should suffice in keeping them safe. Plus, the addresses for sex offendors are public record and on the internet. You can just skip the house. But, I hear those sex offendors give out the big candy bars!!

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