Many residents of Orange County, California have been enjoying this weekend’s heatwave by visiting our pristine beaches and congregating for BBQs at parks. But if Orange County District Attorney, Tony Rauckauckus has his way, soon the beaches and parks will be off-limits to registered sex offenders, according to The Times’ Orange County DA Wants Sex Offenders Banned From Beaches, Parks. The District Attorney pitched the ban to the Board of Supervisors last week. Rauckauckus seeks to keep beaches and parks as havens for children and their families.
One dares to wonder how this would be enforced. Would each beach and park attendee have to check in upon entry and be run through the Megan’s Law directory? I hear the County is bursting at the seems with funds for discretionary projects like this. Maybe all of the pink slipped Costa Mesa police officers can pick up some hours going up to random people at beaches and parks, asking for IDs to check for registration status. What do you mean you need probable cause? Anyone can spot a sex offender a mile away, right?
Well, according to the University of New Hampshire Childhood Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet, amongst other statistics, acquaintances and family members commit most sexual abuse and assault on children. Family members constitute a quarter to a third of all childhood sexual abusers and 90% of chidren are acquainted with their abuser in some way. So maybe the beaches should not be just for, “parents who want to enjoy nature with their children,” as Rauckauckus claims.
The most ironic part of this huge waste of time and resources plan is that Rauckauckus either is not aware of the family and acquaintance childhood sexual abuse predominance or just doesn’t care. Granted, his position is a political one and sex offender politics are easily popular because they create hysteria around abuse that occurs to approximately 1.2 per 1,000 children. Centering this discussion around sex offenders at parks and beaches, as though a 290 registrant is behind every bush with binoculars imaging each child naked, is dishonest because this isn’t where or how sex abuse is actually happening.
Child sex abuse is a serious problem in our society and prevention, education, treatment and punishment are important tools to be used in protecting kids. At the same time, banning sex offenders from public park and beaches is draconian, a waste of money, and unnecessary.
Restrictions for these individuals, who live amongst us whether one likes it or not, are already causing severe homelessness throughout the country, including our neighboring city, Los Angeles, according to many media reports. It seems the real goal is to prohibit sex offenders from really living anywhere, except jail. Once they are banned from parks and beaches – – two places homeless people are often forced to live in Orange County due to limited shelters – – there really will be no place to stay in Orange County except jail. If Rauckauckus really wants to see all sex offenders spend the rest of their lives in jail, he should just be honest about it and lets have the conversation out in the open.
Criminal defense attorney Lauren K Johnson represents defendants accused of all crimes, including sex crimes in juvenile court and criminal court.