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Court: Towns can bar sex offenders from parks

Posted June 13, 2008

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— Town officials and residents said Friday they felt better about a local ordinance banning registered sex offenders from parks after the state Supreme Court upheld a similar ban.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that the court ruled Thursday that a ban in the Buncombe County town of Woodfin is reasonable and doesn't violate any fundamental liberties of the man who challenged it.

Woodfin's Board of Alderman adopted the ordinance in April 2005, and resident David Standley sued with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union. Standley, 44, said the ordinance violated his right to travel because he had been twice convicted of sex offenses and is now disabled.

Wade adopted a similar ban in February after residents complained that a sex offender was hanging around a local playground.
 Violators face $500 fines.

"Just because they ban sex offenders on playgrounds and stuff doesn't mean they won't be out here, but it's a little more of an assurance you can come out here and be safe," said Ronnie Lewis, who was at a Wade park Friday with his children.

The town of Morganton also has a park ban on sex offenders, while officials in Hickory are considering such a proposal.

The state ACLU chapter claims such ordinances are too broad and punish people who are no longer a threat to children.

Wade Commissioner Ray Edwards said he knows someone on the offender registry who's now married with children.

"If people saw him, he wouldn't be allowed up there (in a town park) until his name was taken off the register," Edwards said.

8 Comments

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  • Tax Man Jun 13, 2008

    The law needs to be changed on who should be a registered sex offender - it is too broad. If a 18 year old male has sex, consensually, with his 16 year old girlfriend and the parents call the cops, he can be convicted of statutory rape and must register. If both were a year older there would be no crime. I read a case where a young man got out of his car on a long stretch of highway, took a leak in the bushes, and a passerby called 911 - he was arrested for indecent exposure and now is a registered sex offender. If you got caught with porn on your computer (even if you did not put it there) you would be a registered sex offender. If you had sex with your spouse but left the window open and a snoopy neighbor looked in - well, you and the misses get to be registered sex offenders.

    Registration should be only for those major offenders who are a clear risk to society - they should also be on ankle monitors and reporting to probation officers weekly.

  • colliedave Jun 13, 2008

    why did we let them out of prison in the first place? Let these people be free, or keep them locked up.

    They did their time. Laws need to change to keep locked up for life.

  • jaredg Jun 13, 2008

    i think this should be limited to pedophiles and rapists

  • Vincenzo R. Abacus Jun 13, 2008

    This patchwork of registries and local ordinances is all so ridiculous, and frankly, un-American. If a person is deemed to be a threat in a public park, within 1000 feet of a school, etc - why did we let them out of prison in the first place? Let these people be free, or keep them locked up.

  • Get_Serious Jun 13, 2008

    Glad to see this, I hope other cities follow this example.

  • colliedave Jun 13, 2008

    So, a teenager who has an underage boyfriend or girlfriend can't 10 or 15 years later take their own children to the playground. Or a teacher who has a thing with one of her students can't 30 or 40 years later take their grandchildren to the park.

    Actions have consequences.

  • NotFromHere Jun 13, 2008

    So, a teenager who has an underage boyfriend or girlfriend can't 10 or 15 years later take their own children to the playground. Or a teacher who has a thing with one of her students can't 30 or 40 years later take their grandchildren to the park. Sounds to me like society imposing a sentence that never ends.

  • Leonardo Jun 13, 2008

    I wouldn't have a problem with this if the legal definition of 'sex offender' wasn't so broad, and not apply to just pedophiles and rapists.