LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Lake Charles sex offenders are being warned to comply with the strict new city ordinance dealing with sex offender registration.
The new ordinance first approved in January 2011 sought to require sex offenders to pay a local registration fee of $600. But after a legal challenge the ordinance was amended to $400 and that may, in some cases, be over and above the $60.
A lawsuit challenging that was dismissed but now a new one has been filed. Letters like this one have been sent out to sex offenders in Lake Charles putting them on notice about the new ordinance.
The letter says each should make an appointment at the police department to ensure they are in compliance or risk being arrested for failure to register.
Sex offender Clinton Fruge has filed a new lawsuit to challenge the amended ordinance which he believes is unconstitutional. "Now the City of Lake Charles is trying to broaden the punishment for sex offenders by adding the extensive fees that will go to Lake Charles Police Department," said Fruge.
He considers the now $400 Lake Charles registration fee and other provisions of the ordinance to amount to more punishment on those who completed their sentences. "They don't want registered sex offenders living in Calcasieu Parish or within city limits of Lake Charles. People have challenged these ordinances and they have been successful on their challenges," said Fruge.
Fruge pleaded guilty 20 years ago to attempted forcible rape. He is now married with a step child. His wife Amy says the over the top law causes financial hardship for struggling families. "They served their time when they were in jail. When they got out they had their parole to serve. I do not believe that we should continue to add money to add money to these people and continue to dig in their pockets and hurt them and their families because of something they may have done twenty, thirty even up to fifty years ago," said Fruge.
Police officials say the $400 fee is to recoup money the police department spends dealing with sex offenders and registration requirements. The state fee for sex offender registration is $60.
Assistant City Attorney Chris John says the lawsuit will likely delay enforcement of the ordinance. No word yet on a hearing date.
Fruge had sued earlier but says the suit was dismissed without prejudice. He said he didn't oppose because he thought there was going to be a compromise and the matter resolved. He says it hasn't been so he has filed a new lawsuit.
Basically, Fruge says the ordinance is unconstitutional. He says the registration fee and rules pertaining to residency heap on additional punishment and that the $400 fee is aimed at raising money for the Lake Charles Police Department.
In the last week or so, letters were sent out to known sex offenders in Lake Charles. Fruge received a letter saying the ordinance takes effect July 18 and that he is to contact one of the police officers named in the letter to update his sex offender registration status. The letter says, "Failure to contact and schedule an appointment will subject you to arrest for Failure to Register."
The letter goes on to say, "If you have registered since January 1, 2012 and paid the Louisiana state $60 fee you are still required by law to register and pay the Lake Charles Police Department an initial registration fee of $400."