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Wednesday
Sep252013

California Sex Offenders Get Halloween Victory

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ORANGE, Calif.) -- An Orange, Calif., ordinance that required registered sex offenders to post a sign on their front door on Halloween has been repealed, less than a week after a federal lawsuit was filed claiming the practice was unconstitutional.

For the approximately 100 registered sex offenders in the city of Orange, it was a matter of their own personal safety, said Janice Bellucci, an attorney representing the plaintiff and head of California Reform Our Sex Offender Laws, an advocacy group that fights for the civil rights of registered sex offenders.

“It means they’re going to be safe so they don’t have to worry about vigilantes harming them or members of their family,” Bellucci told ABC News.

The ordinance, which was passed in 2010, required the city’s registered sex offenders to post a sign for 24 hours on Halloween, no smaller than 12 by 24 inches, that would read: “No candy or treats at this residence.”

Although the sign requirement has been repealed, sex offenders in Orange are still banned from decorating their residences and must leave all exterior lighting off from 5 p.m. until midnight. They also can’t answer the door to children who are trick or treating.

“The whole ordinance is to protect the children of our city, and I think those sections still provide those protections,” City Attorney Wayne Winthers told ABC News.

Bellucci filed a similar lawsuit last year, challenging a Simi Valley, Calif., ordinance that required registered sex offenders to post a sign. The day before the law went into effect, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the city from enforcing the sign provision.

“We’re concerned that it’s Halloween today,” she said. “Is it going to be Easter next, where you can’t have an Easter egg hunt in your yard with your grandchildren?”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio