Soon, convicted sex offenders will be banned from Seal Beach parks and beaches.
On Monday, the Seal Beach City Council approved a new law creating child safety zones in which convicted sex offenders are not allowed. The move was applauded by Erin Runnion, whose five-year-old daughter, Samantha, was kidnapped while playing outside her Stanton home, sexually assaulted and then murdered in 2005.
The Joyful Child Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at raising awareness of child abduction and sexual abuse was established in her daughter’s honor, and Erin Runnion has advocated on behalf of child safety laws around the county and nation.
“I want to thank you all. I think it’s really important that our children have an assumption of safety, at least, from known offenders,” Runnion told the Council Monday night.
“If we can keep them away from our kids, all the better just because we don’t know who will re-offend or not.”
The new law, which will take affect next month, bans convicted sex offenders from Seal Beach parks, the pier, the jetties, the beach and beach parking lots. The ordinance makes it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to enter parks and beaches where children play.
Last month, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas urged the council to follow the county and cities such as Los Alamitos, Westminster and Huntington Beach in instituting Child Safety Zones.
The need for such a law was exemplified in Fullerton where a dangerous sex offender spent time around children in a city park, and authorities lacked the authority to keep him away from the children, he explained.
“We are trying to establish places where people don’t have to be worried about having their kids come in contact with sexual predators,” said Rackauckas. “Basically, we are trying to stick up for the kids.”