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Claim Says Convicted Molester's Rights Violated

March 22, 1997|SCOTT MARTELLE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PLACENTIA — A lawyer for convicted child molester Sidney Landau said Friday he has filed a claim against the city of Placentia over its Police Department's decision to notify residents of two neighborhoods that Landau had moved in.

The lawyer, T. Matthew Phillips, said he filed the notice of claim with the city on Friday as a precursor to a lawsuit accusing city officials of invading Landau's privacy and ignoring his constitutional rights to due process.

The claim, which Phillips said has 22 separate causes of action, seeks unspecified damages. If it is rejected by city officials, Landau will then be free to press a lawsuit in the courts.

City officials could not be reached Friday night for comment.

The heart of the claim, Phillips said, is that the Placentia Police Department, citing Megan's Law, categorized Landau as a sex offender likely to strike again. Yet, he said, they had no reason to suspect that Landau posed a threat.

"Megan's Law says they have to have a reasonable suspicion," Phillips said. "It seems all they have is residency."

Phillips said that there are about 100 registered sex offenders in Placentia. Police have said that there are about 50 registered offenders. Phillips claims that city officials violated Landau's rights by singling him out as a higher risk than the others.

In the first use of Megan's Law in California, police notified residents of one Placentia neighborhood in January that he was living there with relatives. Landau was forced to move. Destitute, he used $750 from a special parole fund to move into the apartment where he now lives on East Yorba Linda Boulevard.

Two weeks ago, youths in the Placentia Police Explorer Scouts distributed fliers around the 107-apartment complex, and neighbors responded with a community meeting and protests. The apartment managers gave Landau a 30-day eviction notice.

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