A convicted sex offender is seeking an exemption from the city of Murrieta so he can temporarily reside within 1,000 feet of a school, which under a city ordinance would make him guilty of a misdemeanor.
The offender, whose name Patch agreed not to publish to protect the identity of his innocent family members, made the request during public comments at Tuesday’s Murrieta City Council meeting.
Now married with a young child, the 34-year-old man said he was convicted of attempted rape when he was 19 and living in Utah. The laws in that state require that sex offenders register their addresses for 10 years following a first-time conviction, while in California the registration must be maintained for life.
The city of Murrieta puts further restrictions on sex offenders. An ordinance approved in 2010 made it a misdemeanor if a sex registrant whose conviction involves an offense against a child resides within 2,000 feet of schools, parks or day care centers.
State law mandates that all persons convicted of sex, drug, arson and gang offenses must register with their local law enforcement agency, the Murrieta Police Department website states. If a registrant moves within the same jurisdiction they are required to report their change of address to that agency.
The man told Council he has formally been released from the requirement that he register in Utah. He added that he has submitted paperwork to the Department of Justice seeking exclusion from Megan’s Law, which since 2004 has required the publication of the current address, photo and offense or offenses of those convicted of sex crimes.
According to the man’s online Megan’s Law profile, he was convicted of “attempted race by force or fear.”
“I guess you could categorize it as something stupid I did as a teenager...getting mixed up with a girl at a party and her fiancé finding out,” he said. “For the last 15 years it is something I have dealt with...I have become a lot stronger person for it and become a lot better of a person for it, as unfortunate as it all was...Now I have a wife and a little daughter and we have lived here several years...Unfortunately I also happen to be one of Murrieta’s registered sex offenders.”
Recently, he said he and his wife were forced to move out of their rental home because it was sold.
“I can not move within 2,000 feet of a school or park. Finding a place to fulfill those requirements is...becoming exceedingly difficult...My crime had nothing to do with children.”
He asked for a three-month exemption from the city so he can temporarily move in with his in-laws, whose residence falls within 1,000 feet of a school—which one he did not say.
During those three months, they would save money to move out of state, he said.
While a Murrieta police officer did speak with the man Tuesday following his request before City Council, a Murrieta police spokesperson, Lt. Rob Firmes, said he was not aware whether any action had been taken.
Police Chief Mike Baray was in attendance at the City Council meeting, but Firmes said the chief was out of the office through Tuesday so he could not comment further.
Murrieta Mayor Rick Gibbs publicly thanked the man for his candor, but said Council could not immediately respond since the matter was not on that meeting’s agenda.
“This was the first time an exemption was requested by a registered sex offender,” Gibbs said, in an emailed response to Patch’s request for comment.
As of Friday, no one from the City had responded to the man’s request, according to Gibbs.
“While I appreciate this young man's candor with what was an extremely tough admission to make in public, the fact is that California law states that such an offense is always on the books,” Gibbs said. “This would make action by council rather doubtful. Whether the hypothetical action was to affirm or deny an exemption, it would put the council in a position that may not be legally prudent.”
The city’s ordinance barring sex registrants from living near schools, parks or day care centers is one Gibbs is quite familiar with, he told Patch.
“Several years ago, there was a neighborhood in Murrieta that contacted me after a registered sex offender, who had served his time, set up residence on a street filled with young children. The neighbors were quite agitated.
“I took up their cause and we wrote a legally defensible ordinance that keeps sex offenders away from locations where children congregate. However, it still permitted offenders to reside in the community in locations not within the exclusion zones.
“The only thing Council was worried about at the time was the protection of our children.
“Since the Council has a sex offender ordinance in place, it is not clear that we could or should violate our own ordinance.”
The man did not respond to a request for comment from Patch as to whether he planned to follow up with the City.