Suit dismissal paves way for new sex offender ordinance - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Suit dismissal paves way for new sex offender ordinance

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The rules are about to change for Lake Charles sex offenders. The lawsuit challenging the city's controversial registration fee was dismissed after the sex offender who filed it moved to Kentucky.

Now that the sex offender who challenged the ordinance has moved, the wheels are in motion to enforce the ordinance. It increases sex offender registration fees and imposes other prohibitions. 

Assistant City Attorney Chris John said soon letters will be mailed  putting sex offenders on notice.

"It's a process that's going to have to take place and we're still working out the details, but obviously they're going to be sent letters to notify them of the effective date and then they'll be given a reasonable time period for compliance. I would envision about sixty days before this actually goes into effect," John said. 

First the fee was to go up to $600, compared to the state fee $60. And the ordinance severely restricted how close sex offenders can get to places with children. As a compromise, the fee was reduced to $400 and the other prohibitions made more practical.

"You couldn't really drive down any city street without being in violation," admits John, "So, the amended ordinance, the one that's in effect now, deals with a residence and not necessarily just physical contact as far as the distance."

Officials said it costs at least $150,000 a year for LCPD to monitor sex offenders and enforce the laws offenders are to comply with. The city officials ask, why should the public have to pay?

Said Deputy Police Chief Mark Kraus, "To supervise them costs taxpayers of Lake Charles money. Simply put, the people who have committed these sex crimes should pay for those sex crimes -- not the grocer, or the football coach or the school teacher who's already stretched to the limit."

City council member John Ieyoub is the one who originally proposed the ordinance.

"So, this extra money was to help supplement the cost to all the manpower and all the resources that we use to track the sex offenders in our city and ultimately make it a safer place," Ieyoub said.

There are an estimated 140 sex offenders in Lake Charles. For more of the comments of city officials, check out the web extras with John, Ieyoub and Kraus.

Copyright 2013 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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