Saturday, November 18, 2006


This last week, Tim Warner and I were trying to figure out what if anything can be done about the fact that a registered child sex offender lives a stone's throw from the school, on Glenfeliz. If you aren't aware of this, go to and search the sex offender registry by entering your address. You'll see a map of our neighborhood, and there's a big red star right accross the street from the school. Click on the star and you'll see his photo. His name is Steven Short, and he lives at 3944 Glenfeliz. The site doesn't say exactly what he was convicted of or when, other than it was a "lewed and lascivious act" involving a minor, which if you look up inthe Cal penal code, is a felony punishible by jail time.

We were thinking that maybe under Prop. 83 (Jessica's Law) which was signed into law a couple weeks ago, he could be forced to move. Under the new law, convicted child molesters are prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park. Unfortunately, our local LAPD division thought it very unlikely that this could affect someone who was legally living somewhere before the law was passed. An investigator I spoke with at the DA's office didn't know one way or the other, but I have to say it seems unlikely. I don't know much about constitutional law, but I do recall that an ex poste facto law is not highly regarded in the courts.

Anyway, if anyone out there has some info on this situation to share, it would be much appreciated. On the bright side, the receptionist at Glenfeliz Elementary lives a couple doors down from him (she has a great commute to work!), and she said that EVERYONE at the school is aware of him and they know what he looks like. She said he's lived there for years and keeps to himself, although she didn't know him personally.



Anonymous said...

Article Gabriela found in the NY Times on 11/27/2006:

November 27, 2006
Time Served
Zoning Laws That Bar Pedophiles Raise Concerns

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, N.J., Nov. 21 — The man identified in court documents as A. B. does not talk to his neighbors or tarry at the convenience store. Seventy-seven years old, soft-spoken and sometimes confused, he hardly ever leaves the little ranch house he bought in 1969. “People know what’s what with me,” he said.

What’s what with A. B. is that he moved back here last year after serving seven years in prison for sexually molesting two grandchildren and another youngster. And because his home is in a “child safety zone” drawn by the township, he may be forced to leave it.

But the public defender’s office in New Jersey, a state government agency, filed suit against the township on his behalf last month, claiming that the ordinance not only violates his right to due process, but also conflicts with a state law requiring that parole officers decide where registered sex offenders live. It is the first such case the agency has taken up, and could herald a curb on the rapidly proliferating local ordinances that threaten to push pedophiles to the fringes of civilization.

Such regulations — more than 100 have been enacted in New Jersey municipalities — are popular around the nation. More than 20 states have broad laws keeping sex offenders from schools, churches, playgrounds and the like. This month 70 percent of California voters approved expanding statewide restrictions to include more sex offenders, and authorized towns to designate even stricter limits.

On Long Island, the East Rockaway Village Board voted on Nov. 13 to add areas in which sex offenders are barred: Now they cannot live within 1,000 feet of day care centers, community centers, places of worship, libraries and recreational facilities. And the Village of Babylon announced Tuesday that it had evicted seven offenders who were violating its residency restrictions.

The steady march of more and more restrictive regulations, though, is sending sex offenders into rural territory, which in New Jersey and on Long Island is scarce — or worse, into vagrancy, law enforcement officials say. Now these officials fear that uprooting sex offenders makes them less stable and harder to track.

“It certainly makes our job difficult,” said Thomas James, New Jersey’s director of parole, explaining that because his officers often have to find housing and social services for offenders, their banishment by local governments is “an ever-increasing problem.”

But Michael DiGiorgio, chief of police here in Franklin Township, said, “We’re not telling any of these individuals they can’t live in Franklin Township; they just can’t live where the children are.”

“That’s the whole purpose of the ordinance,” he added. “To protect children.”

A. B.’s name is on the state’s registry — “I’m broadcast on the Internet,” he said — but he was identified by randomly chosen initials in court papers, and granted anonymity for this article, so as not to expose his victims. His lawsuit, filed in State Superior Court in Gloucester County, is one of a handful filed across New Jersey in recent months to overturn the local rules, part of a national wave of litigation that is beginning to follow the multiplying new laws.

An Ohio court ruled in October that the state’s buffer-zone law could not be enforced against offenders who lived in such zones before it took effect. Citing several constitutional concerns, a federal judge in California issued a temporary restraining order barring enforcement of the residency restrictions set forth in the state’s recent ballot proposition.

In Georgia, plaintiffs in a class-action suit include several offenders who would seem to pose little further threat: an elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease and another living in a hospice, along with a woman whose long-ago conviction was for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old boy when she was 17.

“We’ve represented people on death row, we’ve represented what I thought were some pretty unpopular people,” said Stephen B. Bright, president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which is handling the Georgia case. “I didn’t know what unpopular was until we started representing sex offenders.”

Professionals who treat sex offenders say those who are forced to move often drop out of treatment programs. Civil liberties advocates say the restrictions unfairly punish people who have already served their sentences. But perhaps the most potent complaint about the ordinances is one articulated in A. B.’s lawsuit: that they impede the state’s ability to track the offenders in the first place.

In Florida, which has 1,000-foot buffer zones, a survey of 135 offenders showed that about half had to move after the law was adopted. In New Jersey, officials said they were unsure how many of the state’s 12,500 registered offenders had been displaced.

“Do you want to throw them all out of their homes? Where are they going to go?” asked Tom Rosenthal, a spokesman for the state public defender’s office. “Law enforcement is already empowered to tell people to move. If they feel someone shouldn’t be there, they can tell him to move and he can be gone in an hour.”

A. B.’s future is uncertain because his house is half a mile from a lake, a recreation area under the terms of the township ordinance. So are most other houses in this 56-square-mile township of 16,000 people, a rural expanse in South Jersey where communities grew up around lakes, campgrounds and public parks.

A. B. and his wife live on Social Security income of $1,200 a month and have no assets other than the house and a 1996 Ford Taurus. He left school at 16, having completed only the sixth grade. He delivered telegrams for Western Union, later drove a truck and then worked as an office assistant at an appliance business that went bankrupt.

At age 68, A. B. was charged with aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child; he was accused of fondling the genitals of a 3-year-old boy and a 21-month-old girl, and performing oral sex on a 6-year-old girl.

In prison he had a heart attack, and a doctor later told him that in the hospital his heart had stopped. “Maybe they should have left me dead,” he said in a recent interview at his kitchen table here.

Since his release from prison, A. B. has mostly stayed home to care for his wife, who is mentally ill and spends her days at an adult-care center in Glassboro, about 10 miles away. The two biggest towns nearby, Vineland and Millville, also have residency restrictions on sex offenders.

“I looked here, looked there,” A. B. said of the possibility of having to move, “but the cheapest price for anything decent is $850 a month.” A. B. was originally ordered to move by Oct. 25, but the township has agreed to let him stay until the suit is resolved.

The mayor, David Ferrucci, said that Franklin Township, unlike some smaller, more compact towns that effectively zoned out sex offenders entirely, had “a reasonable amount of housing outside the zone.”

The ordinance, adopted 13 months ago, applies only to those convicted of sex crimes against minors, and follows the state’s three-tier system. High-risk offenders cannot live within 3,000 feet of designated places, including schools, parks, churches, theaters, libraries and convenience stores. The zone extends 2,500 feet for the moderate-risk group and 1,000 feet for low-risk offenders.

The ordinance also prohibits loitering in those areas. A. B., a moderate-risk offender, says that he is afraid to go to church, and that when he buys cigarettes for his wife at the Wawa store a few miles away, he does not talk to anyone. On his parole officer’s advice, he said, he avoids public places whenever possible. As required, he goes to group therapy sessions every two weeks.

“I wouldn’t do anything out of the law,” he said. “I’m scared. I don’t want to spend another day of my life in prison.”

Experts say at least 90 percent of child molesters, like A. B., abuse relatives or family friends. Yet Charles Onley, a researcher at the Center for Sex Offender Management, a project of the federal Justice Department, said that “most of the laws are passed on the basis of the repulsive-stranger image, when in most cases the offender knows the victim.”

Still, parents’ demands for reassurance are hard to dismiss, especially as sex offenders are forced out of neighboring towns.

“How could legislation like this be done better?” Mayor Ferrucci said. “Let the state do it. I would be a huge advocate for that. We’re all out there as municipalities grasping for opportunities to protect our citizens.”

The public defender’s office contends that the New Jersey Legislature acted 10 years ago when it adopted Megan’s Law, named for Megan Kanka, a 7-year-old Hamilton Township girl whose murder by a released sex offender prompted extensive restrictions on offenders when they leave prison. They are registered by local police departments, tracked by parole officers and, in many cases, required to report regularly for psychological treatment. Several bills proposing further residency restrictions have been introduced, but the Legislature has not acted on them.

Many other states, though, have enacted buffer-zone legislation since Iowa’s law was upheld by a federal appeals court in April 2005; now, the county prosecutors’ association is urging repeal of the law as ineffective and unfair to offenders’ families.

Some states, including New Jersey, have tried other solutions, including civil confinement of some sex offenders after their prison terms. But last week, New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, struck down the practice of confining offenders to psychiatric hospitals after they leave prison and ordered hearings to determine whether those being held should be released.

Gov. George E. Pataki, who last year ordered the confinement of 12 offenders after lawmakers failed to agree on legislation that would have explicitly permitted such detention, said he would call for a special session of the Legislature this week to push for a civil confinement bill.

Even as New Jersey’s courts consider possible constitutional problems with local residency restrictions, new ones keep coming.

On Tuesday the City Council in Jersey City enacted an ordinance that prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school, park, sports facility, theater or convenience store, among other places. The measure exempts offenders who already have established residence in such zones, but bars newly released convicts who want to return home or move in with relatives. Taken together, the zones block out virtually the whole city.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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Anonymous said...

And how will we find out how many murderers, animal torturers and shoplifters live a stone's throw from the elementary school? Why do some types of criminals get to serve their time and be left alone, while others get harangued the rest of their lives?

Anonymous said...

I think that being aware of who he is and where he lives is really all we should do. From the research I've read on this, most children are molested by people they know in their own homes.

Just as I was taught by my parents, my children will know never to talk to strangers or get into a car with someone they don't know.

ninatim said...

From what I have read, pedophilia is treated in a fashion similar to alcoholism, meaning the person with the "disease" has a lifelong battle to fight. Just as I think it would be bad for a recovering alcoholic to live across from a bar, I feel that it is a horrible idea for a convicted sexual offender to live across fom a school.

I would love if we lived in an ideal world where convicts that have served their time would be rehabilitated and accepted back into society, but in reality most offenders aren't rehabilitated and society is not very welcoming.

As for the pedophile that lives across from the school - he moved there after his parole time was over, meaning he was aware of the law and chose to move there when he knew it would be okay. It is great if he has never done anything while living there, but for me his decision to choose to live across from a school after serving time for pedophilia is suspect and invites scrutiny from the surrounding community.

If he lived a few blocks away I would be happy to leave him in peace and not try to makee an issue of it. if you check the Meagan's Law website there are a few other sexual offenders in the area but non across from a school.

Victims have to deal with life-long issues, so if their attackers have some inconveniences in their lives such as moving is that such a big problem?

A pedophile living across from a school is not a shoplifter or animal torturer living across from a school. A convicted animal torturer should not be allowed to live near any pet stores or shelters. As for a shoplifter, that crime should not even be compared to animal torturing or child molesting. That is apples and oranges.

As for murderers - I certainly don't want any murderers in our neighborhood but I severly doubt anyone conviced of multiple homicides would have been released from prison.

Also, I don't think you can really compare a person convicted of a murder with a pedophile on a general basis. Pedophlia is a permanent psychological condition that makes men or women attracted to children and want to act on those feelings. A murder may be a singular occurance whereas a pedophile's condition does not go away.

And just being aware is a good start, but to me this is a common sense issue that if we can do something about we should. And if Jessica's Law ends up going through the courts then we can.

We shouldn't need a law to enforce this but apparently we do. I feel if this man was truly repentant and wanted a clean slate he would have chosen to live anywhere but across from a school. And so for the time being I will be aware of him, but if Jessica's Law goes through I will make every attempt to force him to move.



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