Sunday, November 18, 2012

FL - City grants flexibility in restrictions on sex offenders

Original Article


By Susan Latham Carr

In limited circumstances, the Ocala police chief now has the authority to reduce by 500 feet the distance a sexual offender may live from a day care center, school, park or playground.

The city of Ocala requires a sexual predator or sexual offender to live at least 1,500 feet from schools, daycare centers, parks or playgrounds. State law requires a 1,000 foot distance.

But the City Council voted unanimously earlier this month to give the police chief the discretion to reduce the residence requirement from 1,500 feet to the 1,000 feet in certain circumstances and when the offender has not been convicted of other felonies and the offense committed was not a violent crime.

The change came about after a convicted sex offender asked the council if he could remain in his home, which is within 1,100 feet of an elementary school, until he can afford to move. He recently had moved from another state to Ocala and now finds himself in violation of Ocala’s ordinance. He explained to the council that he was 17 years old when he made a 15 year old girl pregnant. They continued to date and then got married and now have a 12-year-old daughter. He told the council that, if he was forced to move, he would be homeless.

Quite frankly, I don’t think that law was written for gentlemen like him,” Mayor Kent Guinn, who heads the city police department, said.

The council asked in August that the ordinance be reviewed and requested that, in the meantime, the man’s story be checked for accuracy. Deputy Chief Rodney Smith said the police could do offender checks in the interim.

Apparently, the man’s story checked out and earlier this month, an amended ordinance was brought before the City Council for consideration.

Chief Greg Graham, at the council meeting earlier this month said that this was a Romeo/Juliet case in which the underage couple had sex, the boy was arrested, and the couple got married.

They are no danger to anybody,” Graham said. “They are still registered and they cannot live within 1,000 feet.”

Assistant City Attorney W. James Gooding III said that, to get the waiver under the new ordinance, both parties must have been under the age of 18 when the incident occurred.


Guest said...

This is disturbing on many levels...

First, residency restrictions have been around since 2005 or so... If you had told me just 10 years ago that the government would and could, under threat of prosecution and lengthy prison terms, dictate where its citizens may or may not live, based on an action that might have occurred years or decades prior, I would have said "That is crazy talk - that is entirely unconstitutional and will never happen in a free country such as this". Now we are in 2012 and these laws are so commonplace and accepted by the sheeple, err, public that loosening them by 500(!) feet for kids(!) seems the right and benevolent thing to do. Reporting it uses terms like 'grant' and 'flexibility'. Really???

Second, I would like more information in which state this young man committed 'his' offense - if it was one of the ones with an AOC of under 18, and he being 17 and she 15 - why is he the only one on the registry?

Lastly, what kind of society is this we live in? A society that ruins, yes ruins, its young people for doing something that has been going on for thousands of years and that most evolved civilizations, even in this day and age, without this strange Victorian moral code view as completely normal - a 17 and a 15 year old getting it on? The humanity!

Babachet said...

I am really upset about the fact he got prosecuted. But it is good that one little step at a time mabey the sheeple will see that one size does not fit all. This is a prime example. Mabey if they are willing to let things slide for this guy it will continue in the right direction. Just a positive thought.