Allegheny County will appeal ruling on sex offenders
Share with others:
Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato this afternoon said the county will appeal a federal court ruling that struck down an ordinance banning sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a child care facility, recreational facility, community center, public park or school.
U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster said the ordinance, which was introduced and unanimously approved by County Council in October 2007, undermined state law. The ordinance, which was initially sponsored by County Councilman Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park, was challenged last year by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of six sex offenders.
"We believe it is important to appeal this ruling in order to provide an additional level of protection for children here in Allegheny County," said Mr. Onorato.
He added that Megan's Law requires sex offenders to register their addresses with local police departments, but it does not prevent them from living next door to a school, day care center or other places where children are regularly present.
"A lot of time and effort by a number of county officials went into crafting this ordinance, and we feel it is needed, just on solid legal ground," said Mr. Gastgeb.
Council President Rich Fitzgerald, D-Squirrel Hill, said, "our ordinance is reasonable, and we are disappointed in the judge's decision and believe he is wrong in this case."
The county has 30 days to file an appeal on the ruling.
First Published March 24, 2009 4:20 pm