A registered sex offender is set to go before an Orange County Superior Court judge this afternoon, but the 47-year-old is not a criminal defendant.
Richard Milen Linington is suing the city of Cypress over a new ordinance that he says will force him to move out of the home of his fiancée. He is seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the ordinance from going into effect next Wednesday, Aug. 26, as it prohibits registered sex offenders from residing within 1,000 feet of any school, park or day care center. The home of Linington's fiancée, Michelle Moreno, is less than 1,000 feet from a school.
Linington was convicted in 1987 for felony sexual penetration of a victim with a foreign object by force and was released from incarceration three years later, according to the state's Megan's Law database.
"I have no subsequent sex-related offenses of any kind, felony or misdemeanor," Linington claims in his lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of him and Moreno by attorney Janice Bellucci, who is president of California Reform Sex Offender Laws.
Bellucci claims that without the lawsuit challenge, the Cypress ordinance will virtually banish sex offender registrants from the city, leaving only 2.9 percent of the city available to them while forcing loved ones like Moreno to make the Sofie's choice between her home of 25 years or a happy marriage elsewhere.
(Moreno visited a neighborhood where her future husband would be allowed to live and discovered homes there cost $1 million-plus, which is both more than she can afford and probably not where the city of Cypress wants a sex offender ghetto.)
Supreme Court precedent is on the couple's side, according to Bellucci, who cites a recent decision that deemed the 2.9 percent total in San Diego "insufficient and unconstitutional" while ruling residency restrictions may not be imposed in a manner that deprives registrants of their liberty interests, "including the right to be free from arbitrary, oppressive, and unreasonable laws that bear no rational relationship to the state's goal of protecting residents."
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She also points to a California Sex Offender Management Board report that cites Dr. Karl Hanson, a respected sex offenses researcher, stating that a registered citizen who has not re-offended in 17 years is no more likely to commit a sex offense than someone who has never been convicted of a sex offense. Linington claims he's been crime-free since his conviction 28 years ago.
When the Cypress City Council enacted its Registered Sex Offender Ordinance in 2013, then-Mayor Pro Tem Leroy Mills said, "The council drew a line in the sand and said it would not reduce the restrictions. The ordinance is the toughest in Orange County, and we are going to protect our young people."
A federal court rejected an injunction against the ordinance, which was recently strengthened from its original form to prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of any school, park or child care center, as opposed to 2,000 feet.