City will appeal sex-offender ruling

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Englewood announced Aug. 26 that it will appeal a decision by a federal judge, who found that the city’s restrictions on the residency of certain sex offenders are unconstitutional and are in conflict with the state’s “interest in uniform treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration of sex offenders during and after state supervision.”

Judge R. Brooke Jackson said Englewood’s restrictions essentially leave no place in the city for sex offenders to live, and that the rules push offenders into nearby cities.

“We do not believe the state has addressed the issue of where a sexual offender may live, only that he or she must register with local police departments,” Englewood Mayor Randy Penn said in making the appeal announcement. “Registration isn’t enough. That doesn’t work, as the history of this case has shown. When the state (in a 2006 case) seeks to place a sexually violent predator across from a day care center, something is wrong. The state system is broken.”

He said Englewood also intends to contact state legislators to propose legislation to ensure local governments are permitted to enact ordinances that reasonably protect the children of the city.

City Attorney Dan Brotzman said the city has 30 days to file the appeal.

He said communities such as Greenwood Village, Castle Rock, Lone Tree, Commerce City and Greeley have adopted ordinances similar to Englewood’s, so the city will seek to have those cities and the Colorado Municipal League join and assist in the appeal.

Attorney Tom Rice represented Englewood in the federal-court case and will be the lead attorney in filing the appeal, Brotzman said.

Brotzman said the estimated cost of the appeal will be about $25,000. He added that the appeal process is lengthy and the case could be in court for a year or more.

Englewood passed the ordinance in 2006 when the state notified the city a sexually violent predator was to be placed in a local motel across from a day care center.

The 2006 ordinance makes it a crime for persons convicted of certain sex offenses to live within 2,000 feet of a school, park or playground, or within 1,000 feet of a licensed day care center, recreation center or swimming pool.

In 2012, a different convicted sex offender, Stephen Ryals, didn’t know about the ordinance when he bought a house near a school. He was then issued a municipal summons and told he couldn’t live there.

The American Civil Liberties Union took Ryals’ case to district appeals court. On Aug. 21, the federal court ruled against the city in the Ryals case.

Ryals was a soccer coach who had consensual sexual relationship with a player who was a high school student 10 years his junior. He was convicted of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust. He was originally sentenced to probation, but violated his probation by continuing to see his victim. He was then sentenced to two years in prison.

He was released from prison in April 2003 and discharged from parole in October 2004. He had completed state-mandated treatment, rehabilitation and parole when he bought the house in Englewood.

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