Less than a month after approving restrictions on Halloween activities by registered sex offenders, the city of Simi Valley has been sued, accused of violating their 1st Amendment rights and those of their families.
The city's new law bans Halloween displays and outside lighting every Oct. 31 at the homes of people convicted of sex crimes. For offenders listed on the Megan's Law website, the city also requires a sign on the front door in letters at least an inch tall: "No candy or treats at this residence."
Both the prohibition on decorations and the mandatory sign violate free speech rights, according to the lawsuit.
A total of 119 registered sex offenders live in Simi Valley. Although some have been convicted of misdemeanors and do not have their names displayed, 67 have been guilty of more serious crimes and are publicly listed on the website. None has been involved in crimes involving children on Halloween, according to police, who say they have no records of any such crime occurring in Simi Valley during Halloween trick-or-treating.
City officials have said the action was preemptive and modeled after ordinances adopted by other cities in Southern California. City documents supporting the ordinance say trick-or-treating offers "significant opportunities for sex offenders to victimize children."