‘Child Safety Zones’ Cast Too Wide a Net, Pardoned Sex Offender Says

HARTFORD, Conn. (CN) — Nearly 10 years after he was pardoned for sexually assaulting a 25-year-old woman, a Connecticut man claims in a federal complaint that he is barred from using the library and other public spaces because of an unconstitutional town law.

Represented by the Stamford firm Koffsky & Felsen, the anonymous plaintiff John Doe brought his complaint Tuesday against the town of Windsor Locks.

Back in 2008, the town adopted a law that designating virtually all of the public spaces within its borders as “Child Safety Zones,” off limits to sex offenders and anyone convicted of a criminal offense involving a child.

Because he was convicted in 1995 of third-degree sexual assault, Doe notes that Windsor Locks considers him a member of the former group.

“There were not at that time, nor have there ever been, any allegations that John Doe ever engaged in any inappropriate conduct with a minor,” the complaint continues.

Doe emphasizes that the victim in the case was 25, that he is now the parent of a minor child himself, and that received a provisional pardon for the offense in 2009.

“Due to the ordinance, John Doe is substantially prevented from being present at his child’s educational, recreational, and social activities,” the complaint states.

As for his own interests, Doe also notes that the law keeps him from enjoying use of “the library, including its educational and vocational services; [and] the parks, including for the purpose of attending concerts, festivals, and rallies.”

He brought Tuesday’s suit with the nonprofit One Standard of Justice, a group committed to reforming registration requirements for sex offenders.

Noting that the Windsor Locks ordinance covers people who have never committed any offense against a minor, and all city parks regardless of whether they cater to children, they say the law is not sufficiently tailored to survive First Amendment scrutiny.

“The single purported justification for the ordinance is that ‘recidivism rates for released sex offenders is alarmingly high, especially for those who commit their crimes against children,’” the complaint states.

Calling this statement “false,” Doe and his group note that the recidivism rate for sex offenders as a class is actually “lower than that for every category of offenders other than murderers.”

There are currently 20 sex offenders registered to addresses in Windsor Lock.

Local news reports indicate that Windsor Locks passed its law in response to complaints about a registered sex offender who frequented Pesci Park. Windsor Locks First Selectman Chris Kervick declined to comment on Tuesday’s suit.

The plaintiffs are represented by Audrey Felsen of Koffsky & Felsen.

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