Sex offenders sue Englewood over ordinance restricting residency

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The city of Englewood is being sued by three sex offenders who claim that an ordinance effectively bans them from living anywhere in the city.

Brian Brockhausen, Allen Toner and Larry Cook are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed by Boulder-based attorney Alison Ruttenberg.

Ordinance 34, which was passed in 2006, says sex offenders are not allowed residence within two-thousand feet of any school, park or playground. Or within one-thousand feet of any day care, recreation center, swimming pool, school bus stop, walk-to-school route or recreational trail.

Ruttenberg says approximately 99 percent of the city is off limits to the plaintiffs.

“If these cities are allowed to have ordinances that exclude sex offenders from even living there, that’s like a medieval form of banishment,” she said.

The ordinance, which was created in 2006, has been challenged in court for years. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled to uphold the ordinance in 2016, and now police are enforcing it.

Ruttenberg says that her clients have been told they will soon receive a certified letter informing them they have thirty days to move.

Karmen Carter is the executive director for The Blue Bench, an advocacy group for sexual assault prevention and care, and she says the ordinance is setting a positive example.

“I think we live in a society now-a-days there seems to be a focus on not holding sex offenders accountable and that needs to change,” she said. “If it means they need to live in a different city, in my mind, if that’s what keeps the public safe that’s part of the consequences of the crime they committed and those are the rules they need to deal with.”

Ruttenberg says she will fight for what she says are her clients civil rights.

“We’re breaking new ground in Colorado with this case but there’s plenty of precedent around this country where these ordinances have been struck down.”

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