October 1, 2014

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No Halloween for sex offenders in Amherst, councilman will propose

Phil Van Treuren

Phil Van Treuren

AMHERST — City Councilman Phil Van Treuren wants to ban sex offenders from taking part in the city’s Halloween festivities.

Van Treuren, R-at large, is working on the resolution, which he hopes to introduce Monday at the Police and Fire Committee meeting. He will ask that it be sent to the full Council with an emergency provision for immediate passage.

If passed, the legislation would keep registered sex offenders from participating in trick or treat throughout the city.

Van Treuren, who is seeking re-election, said the specifics are being ironed out, but he hopes to model it off of an ordinance passed in the village of Orwell on Tuesday.

Orwell’s ordinance prohibits registered sex offenders from participating in trick-or-treating by ordering them to leave all exterior residential, decorative and ornamental lighting off from 4 p.m. until midnight. Sex offenders also must refrain from answering the door to children who are trick-or-treating.

The penalty for violating the ordinance would be a minor misdemeanor.

Orwell’s ordinance also prohibits sex offenders from decorating his or her front yards and the exterior of the residences with Halloween decorations, but Van Treuren said he thinks that part of the ordinance might be a violation of the First Amendment, and he is not looking to include that prohibition in his resolution.

Van Treuren said he proposed the legislation to give police another tool to combat child enticement and abuse.

“I don’t want the residents to get the idea that their kids are unsafe … but I think it’s just a common-sense law,” he said.

Amherst is home to 11 registered sex offenders, according to the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office’s sex offender registry. The offenders live throughout, and their crimes range from rape to gross sexual imposition and pandering obscenity.

The registry indicated that seven of the 11 sex offenders committed crimes involving a minor.
Van Treuren said he is suggesting that the legislation ban all registered sex offenders from trick-or-treating, regardless of whether they had targeted a minor, but he said that would have to be discussed with city Law Director Anthony Pecora.

Pecora said, while the idea is a good one, he would have to examine Ohio Revised Code to determine whether the resolution is legally sound.

Van Treuren said he is waiting for the legal opinion of Pecora, and he has been in discussions with the Amherst Police Department.

“I don’t want to do anything without carefully considering it first,” he said.

Van Treuren said it is not illegal for sex offenders to pass out candy unless it is specified in their probation.
Amherst Police Chief Joseph Kucirek said he doesn’t think that the proposal is a bad idea, but he is waiting for a ruling from City Council to determine how to proceed.

“It’s new and cutting edge, and possibly controversial, but other cities have passed it,” he said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.


  • Phil Blank

    Is Amherst that far behind the times that they just now thought of this?

    • stillsleepyeyes

      election time……………

  • TheOriginalFactChecker

    Amherst voters are smarter than to fall for this political grandstanding.

    • Len

      Here, here…

  • Sara yochheim

    This law is an excellent idea and I’m glad Anherst has councilman Van Treuren looking out for our children!! I hope he gets overwhelming support!!

    • Len

      No. It’s really not unless you’re thinking about the trying to exploit an already sensitive subject.

  • ShellyStow

    Why oh why oh why do people keep passing this ridiculous ordinance? Studies show that there is zero increased risk for sexual harm to children on Halloween. There is no record of a child being harmed by a registered offender on Halloween or in connection with Halloween activities–ever.

    Do you know what children are at increased risk for on Halloween? Car/pedestrian accidents. Children are four times more likely to be killed by a car on Halloween than any other time of the year.

    So tell your law enforcement that you want them on traffic patrol during trick-or-treat hours, not checking up on whether a registrant has a light on or not.

  • Rwsmom At Inrsol

    I am curious if City Councilman Phil Van Treuren thinks about the children who have a loved one on the registry? In some jurisdictions, those on the registry have to post signs on their homes, leaving residents of that home at risk for vigilante crimes. This includes children and other family members who reside in that home. Ordinances like the one proposed leaves out the children of registrants from enjoying decorating their homes or participating in activities with their loved one on the registry, which can be very detrimental to a child. Let’s think about the needs of ALL families and children.
    There has never been a report of a child abducted or harmed by a registered person on the registry on Halloween. Why create laws that could harm a child? Isn’t the old saying,,,,”If it protects one child, then it’s worth writing?” Children of registrants DO matter!
    womenagainstregistry.com

    • Bill

      Thanks for the links above. Pretty lengthy and interesting.
      The fallout from the horrible crimes these monsters commit is far reaching.
      As far as the children that reside in the homes of these monsters, if it was a crime against a minor child what would a child be doing in that home in the first place. Pedophiles have no sympathy from me and there is no rehabilitation for them and I offer no sympathy for a family member (Other then a child who shouldn’t be in that home anyhow) who allows a pedophile to reside there.

      • ShellyStow

        You are reacting just like the hysteria-driven s*x offender industry wants you to. You are assuming that everyone on the registry has victimized a child. If you are seriously interested in knowing what you are talking about, you can easily find information about who is on the registry, what the percentage is of those you are calling pedophiles, and even information to clear up your misinformation about pedophilia in general. Your assertions that children shouldn’t live with their parents and that you have no sympathy if innocent people might be harmed can only be attributed to someone who has little to no concept of the reality of the situation. I wish you the best.

        • Bill

          I am only referring to those on the registry that has victimized a child and yes I know what I am talking about and if you are in any way shape or form defending those monsters, the child rapist, pedophiles and support a child living in the home of one of those monsters then you Shelly can go straight to hell.

  • Beth

    Common sense: if your kids don’t know not to go into a stranger’s house, they are not old enough to go trick or treating by themselves…sheesh!