SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - A group of sex offenders will not get a protective order after filing a lawsuit saying their constitutional rights were being violated by county ordinances keeping them away from parks and schools.
The four sex offenders, who refer to themselves as John Does, said they can’t attend public county commissioner meetings because they meet within 1,000 feet of a park.
A federal magistrate said the men cannot remain anonymous and WFTV’s legal analyst said if they don’t use their names, they won’t have a case.
“It’s absurd. It’s absurd that we would want to turn the table around,” Indhira Acosta, a sexual assault counselor at Victim’s Service Center of Central Florida, said.
Acosta said convicted sex offenders claiming the ordinance violates their rights is bad enough, but asking for anonymity is worse because victims don’t have that option.
The offender’s motion for a protective order was denied because the case does not include "highly intimate or sensitive information about the Does."
One of the John Does, who referred to himself as “H” online, said being a plaintiff in the open is not an option and that a Seminole County deputy told him deputies are watching him, which he calls an indirect threat.
WFTV’s legal analyst said without an offender to detail constitutional violation, there is no case.
The magistrate that denied the protective order wrote that the case "not only affects the lives of the registered sex offenders," but also “impacts all persons who live work and visit Seminole County."
Advocates said victims everywhere would be harmed if sex offenders were successful.
“Someone that has committed a crime against them has violated their privacy and their rights is now being protected rather than being held accountable,” Acosta said.
The Florida Action Committee, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the John Does, did not return Channel 9’s calls or emails.
The sheriff and county, who are the defendants in the case, would not comment because of ongoing litigation.
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