It's rare that the letter of the law undermines common sense so drastically as in a ruling that came down from the California Court of Appeals this month.
According to the ruling, convicted child molesters could have visitation rights with their victims as long they never served a prison term for molesting them.
This decision came down in People v. Miguel Ochoa in the California Court of Appeals in San Joaquin County. As part of a plea bargain in Ochoa's Superior Court case, the court dropped the sex offense charge involving a girl referred to as Ang. in court documents. Still Ochoa agreed to pay restitution to her.
guilty to sex offenses against two other girls.
lower court said Ochoa was not allowed to visit Ang, nor any of the other girls involved in his alleged crimes. The penal code section regarding visitation rights of sex offenders states: Whenever "a person is sentenced to the state prison
on or after January 1, 1993, for [certain sex offenses], and the victim
of one or more of those offenses is a child under the age of 18 years,
the court shall prohibit all visitation between the defendant and the
So Ochoa then appealed to the
court of appeals. The justices wrote: "The issue here is whether the
statute's prohibition on visitation includes only child victims of
offenses for which a defendant was sentenced to prison. Based on the
plain language of the statute, the answer is 'yes.'"
The justices seem to provide the courts with an 'out': "We are not called upon here to discuss other laws that may authorize a trial court to limit or prohibit contact between sex offenders and child victims in appropriate circumstances."
In other words: maybe another law would close this loophole and keep child molesters away from visiting kids.
Doesn't that just make everyone feel better?
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