September 26, 2014

Hesperia settles sex-offender lawsuit

9-26-2014 California:

HESPERIA — An agreed-upon dismissal of a registered sex offender’s federal lawsuit was filed Thursday following a settlement. The suit had been filed in July over delay in approving municipal code changes about “presence restrictions” for sex offenders.

Hesperia city code sections regulating the residency, mobility and business activities of registered sex offenders were preempted by several state laws that, when taken together, form “a standardized, statewide system” to regulate their presence, according to Hesperia’s attorney.

“We have an executed settlement agreement in the matter of Frank Lindsay and the city,” Hesperia City Attorney Eric L. Dunn said Thursday. “We settled the case for $6,000, and the plaintiff and attorney have agreed to file a dismissal of this suit with prejudice, meaning they will not sue again.”

Attorney Janice M. Bellucci, representing Lindsay, filed the dismissal late Thursday with the U.S. District Court, Central District of California.

The Santa Maria attorney, president of California Reform Sex Offender Laws, said the hodge-podge of city and county presence restrictions has a “tremendous chilling effect on all those on the (sex offender) registry.”

Bellucci said 37 municipalities repealed their presence-restriction codes voluntarily, 19 were sued and 30 are being watched.

Hesperia was the 15th to be sued since a 4th Appellate District Court decision earlier this year, People v. Nguyen, determined the state “created a standardized, statewide system” to regulate sex offenders, according to Hesperia’s attorney.

“We see it as tremendous forward progress,” Bellucci said of the series of favorable code adoptions. “We really don’t want to sue anybody; we prefer they do what they need to do” to conform to prevailing state law, she said.

The Hesperia City Council did not achieve a needed three-fifths majority for approving the amendment by mid-July and was sued on July 23 by Lindsay, who claimed Hesperia “prohibits him and all other registered citizens from visiting public and private locations as well as residing within that city.”

The council subsequently approved the amendment on a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Russ Blewett dissenting.

Dunn’s associate who handled the case was attorney Lindsay M. Tabaian. The settlement was signed by Hesperia officials Sept. 19. ..Source.. by Gary Brodeur

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