David Allyn Dokich - Serial Child Rapist / High Risk Sex Offender

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Article: The Sex-Offender Lobby

The Sex-Offender Lobby
Ideologues block reform of Megan's Law.

BY CATHERINE SEIPP
Thursday, October 6, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT


LOS ANGELES--Did you know that in California, child molesters and rapists are a protected class? It's true. Not only are California landlords banned from using the state's Megan's Law database to decline renting their properties to sex offenders, they're not even allowed to warn other tenants that these paroled criminals are now their neighbors. If they do the first, they can be fined $25,000 for housing discrimination. But if they don't do the second, they can be sued for failing to protect tenants against a known danger.

Landlords are caught between a rock, a hard place and the California State Assembly's Public Safety Committee, which last April stalled a bill designed to fix the Catch-22. The California Apartment Association is planning a grassroots effort to revive the bill, written by Assembly member Nicole Parra (D., Bakersfield), when the legislature reconvenes in January. Ms. Parra got the California Megan's Law registry online a year ago; before that, it was only available at police stations.

The Megan's Law movement began in New Jersey in 1994, after a seven-year-old girl there was murdered by a paroled child molester who'd moved in across the street. Megan's Laws differ from state to state, but in general they require law enforcement to maintain a registry of convicted sex offenders living in the area and make this registry available to the public.

The ACLU has fought Megan's Laws in every state but never succeeded in getting one declared unconstitutional; but as a sop to those worried about vigilantism, California's version included the provision against housing discrimination. The reform measure, AB 438, would specify that sex offenders are not a protected class. It would also order that the addresses of registered sex offenders--which are often outdated--be kept current online. As it stands, renters in an apartment formerly occupied by a sex offender run the risk of becoming false suspects.

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