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California Supreme Court Decision Allows Sex Offenders in Parks

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By NBC LOS ANGELES

A decision made by the California Supreme Court Wednesday will, as a result, allow sex offenders to frequent parks and beaches across the state.

The California Supreme Court declined to review a lower court's ruling that had struck down on laws that regulated sex offenders in Orange County.

"We're obviously disappointed that the California Supreme Court denied certification to hear this case," Orange County district attorney spokesperson Susan Kang Schroeder said.

"Predator bans" in Orange County had made it a crime for registered sex offenders to be in public parks, whether or not they had done something criminal.

"To us it was a no-brainer, to keep sex offenders away from children. Right now as the law states, unless they're on probation or parole, even if they have molested hundreds of children, they can still go in to parks," Schroeder said.

The Supreme Court decision Wednesday means that the local bans in dozens of California communities are trumped by state law and invalidated, as the 4th District Court of Appeal found in January.

About 30 cities statewide, including 15 in Orange County, had passed sex-offender laws that are now invalidated by the Supreme Court’s action.

"It concerns us," parent Vanessa Butt said. "As parents we want our kids to be safe. And It's scary that we have to constantly watch our kids."

In 2011, Orange County banned sex offenders from parks and beaches unless they had written permission from the sheriff.

But in 2012, a county court overturned the misdemeanor conviction of a sex offender, Hugo Godinez, for going to a company picnic at a Fountain Valley park and asked the appeals court to rule on the case and the legality of the regulations.

The appeals judges found that the rule conflicts with laws passed by the state that already provide a "comprehensive statutory scheme regulating the daily life of sex offenders."

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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