LC City Council amends sex offender ordinance

LC City Council amends sex offender ordinance

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Despite being passed in January a Lake Charles ordinance that would enforce some of the toughest restrictions on sex offenders has yet to be enforced. The ordinance restricting where sex offenders can live and increasing their registration fee from $60 to $600 with another $200 annually has been tied up in the courts for the better part of the year.

"I'm just asking that the council really considers what they are trying to pass," said Clinton Fruge, registered sex offender.

Fruge, 35, was convicted at 16 years old  for forcible rape. He served his time and feels the added costs and restrictions are more punishment for a crime he's already done time for. He's challenging the ordinance and filed a lawsuit against the city earlier this year.

"I understand it is your job to protect the community and disadvantaged, but if you continue to take money out of the pockets of the mouths of not just the registered sex offenders, but my wife and my son and other people's families. You all are creating circumstances that we cannot breathe," said Fruge.

The City argues the extra money is to offset taxpayer dollars for enforcement of compliance. After discussion the City Council amended the fees from the initial $600 to $400 and $100 annually. Changes were also made to certain notification provisions that might invade privacy of victims and the distance a sex offender can live from a school was changed back to 1000 feet rather than the original 1200 feet.

"I understand your family situation I really do. But if a person does not want to be in this type of dilemma then they need to make the right decisions on acts of that nature before it happens. Ignorance of the law does not excuse you of the penalty," said Rodney Geyen, Lake Charles City Councilman.

"What I did 20 years ago is not a factor in my life today. I was 16, I'm now 35. I will work with the council and I will work with the attorneys. I will help you all create this ordinance," said Fruge.

With pending litigation the State Attorney General's Office has declined to rule on the case.

"Mr. Fruge based on these amendments made tonight is going to dismiss his suit without prejudice. We are not going to enforce that ordinance for 180 days and once that dismissal happens we can submit the amended ordinance to the Attorney General's Office for an opinion of the constitutionality."

Based on the decision of the Attorney General's Office Fruge could refile his lawsuit in the future.