Convicted Sex Offender Sues to Change National City's 300-Feet from Kids Rule

An organization called Reform Sex Offender Laws is filing lawsuits in 71 California cities to change local ordinances targeting convicted sex offenders

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 7's Catherine Garcia reports on a lawsuit filed by a convicted sex offender as part of a series of lawsuits challenging local ordinances limiting their movement.

    A registered sex offender has filed a lawsuit against National City, claiming a local ordinance banning  him from areas popular with children has "diminished" his ability to enjoy life. 

    Frank Lindsay, 61, of Grover Beach, Calif. spoke with KSBY-TV about a lawsuit he filed last week challenging the National City ordinance that he claims affected a recent vacation.

    KSBY reports that Lindsay was convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 in 1979.

    "It was an error that I had made, and I've lived the past 35 years as an upstanding citizen," Lindsay told the television station.

    He now works with a nonprofit called Reform Sex Offender Laws that has helped to file lawsuits in 71 California cities to change local ordinances limiting the movements of convicted sex offenders.

    “I feel diminished in my ability to enjoy life,” explained Lindsay. “Everywhere they're casting dispersions like I'm going to attack again and that's not the case."

    The latest municipality in Lindsay's crosshairs is National City. He's the plaintiff in a suit filed last week against the city.

    The state regulates where sex offenders like Lindsay can live. In 2005 National City passed an ordinance keeping registered sex offenders from parks and places of amusement as an extra layer of protection.

    Under the rule, convicted sex offenders must stay 300 feet away from places children frequent like Kimball Park where Angela and Calvin Sanders' kids like to play.

    "I think it needs to be enforced,” said Angela Sanders holding her 9 year-old daughter. "I think there is no excuse."

    Lindsay said the ordinance limited his ability to travel while visiting family in National City.

    "That's not allowing me to enjoy my wholeness. I couldn't do anything but sit in their house," Lindsay said.

    Mayor Ron Morrison called the legal action "annoying." In his view, when a person commits a crime, he or she loses some rights.

    "The area of being a sexual predator toward children... I'm sorry, you do lose, you cannot sit up and say 'I've got all my rights,'" Morrison said.

    Morrison says because of Lindsay's suit and recent court rulings shooting down sex offender laws in other California municipalities, National City police are no longer enforcing their sex offender ordinance.

    An appeals court has ruled the local ordinance supersedes the state's laws and so National City officials  are waiting to see how the State Supreme Court will rule.

    "The primary rights we were trying to protect were the rights of children to grow up safely," explained Morrison.

    "This is just one tool in our toolbox," the mayor said, adding that the city is building new bathrooms in the parks that will be more family-friendly and will be monitored by surveillance cameras.

    "Parents can know we are going to be pre-emptive on anything that could happen," he said.