[UPDATED with Yorba Linda and Lake Forest Votes:] Hugo Godinez, Sex Offender Busted in County Park, is Ammo for Two More Cities Considering Bans
UPDATE, NOV. 16, 4:05 P.M.: The Yorba Linda City Council voted unanimously Tuesday for an ordinance on first reading to keep registered sex offenders out of city parks unless they first get permission from the Brea Police Department, which also patrols Yorba Linda.
The ordinance would be enacted 30 days after it is approved on second reading.
"Yorba Linda is the first city in the northeast corner of our county to create Child Safety Zones to protect children," District Attorney Tony Rackauckas says in a statement issued by his office this afternoon. "Thank you to Yorba Linda City Council for claiming the parks for parents and children and helping to keep them safe from predators."
Yorba Linda's ordinance is modeled after one written by Rackauckas and county Supervisor Shawn Nelson that applies to county parks and recreational areas. It was passed in April.
The Lake Forest City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to have a similar ordinance brought before it on Dec. 6.
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ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 15, 4:15 P.M.: When representatives of the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) appear tonight before the city councils of Yorba Linda and Lake Forest in bids to get each city to enact bans on registered sex offenders in parks, they'll have a fresh new case to point to as evidence the laws work.
Hugo Godinez, 29, of Santa Ana, was found guilty Monday of violating the county's ordinance drafted by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson and enacted in April. A month later, Godinez, who is registered as a sex offender for life, was caught entering Mile Square Park, the county regional park in Fountain Valley.
Godinez, who was also convicted of one misdemeanor count of failing to register and show proof of residency upon release from incarceration, faces up to a year in jail at his sentencing hearing Thursday in Westminster.
He is a registered sex offender with the Costa Mesa Police Department due to a June 23, 2010, conviction of one misdemeanor count of sexual battery. Godinez had signed paperwork indicating he knew he had to re-register in other jurisdictions if he changed his address, and three days before his arrest at the regional park he'd talked with his probation officer about the county ban on registered sex offenders in recreational areas where children gather, according to the OCDA.
Under the so-called Child Safety Zone Ordinance, registered sex offenders cannot enter parks unless they first get the permission from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, if it is a regional facility, or the local police department, if it is a city that has passed a similar ban.
La Habra, Westminster and Los Alamitos have enacted ordinances that mirror the county's. Irvine's misdemeanor law applies only to registered sex offenders who have preyed on children. Laguna Hills and Huntington Beach passed laws like the county's on first reading last week. Besides Yorba Linda and Lake Forest, bans are also being considered by Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita and San Juan Capistrano.
Transient Richard Ernest Hibbard, 72, in August became the first to be convicted under the county ordinance for being "belligerent" around children at Dana Point Harbor, which is a Child Safety Zone. He was sentenced to 31 days in jail.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Fitzpatrick is scheduled to appear at tonight's 7 p.m. Lake Forest City Council meeting, when the idea of proposing an ordinance similar to the county's is to be discussed during public comments. Senior Assistant District Attorney Mary Anne McCauley does the same at the 7 p.m. Yorba Linda City Council meeting, where a pervs-in-parks ban has its first reading.
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