Hillsborough looks to expand sex offender laws listen05/21/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Hillsborough Commissioners supported suggestions made by County Attorneys today on toughening county laws on sexual predators.
The issue resurfaced after an incident in Palm River earlier this year, where protests revealed several sex offenders were living a mobile home park.
Jan McDonald, an attorney with Hillsborough County, said that among those Palm River residents was 34-year-old Mitchell Westerheide, who pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious assaults and other felonies involving whips, knives and fishhooks in 1994. She wanted sexual violent predators be added to the ordinance along with sexual offenders, who have committed crimes against children.
McDonald said she wants Hillsborough County to add a new "anti-clustering" ordinance.
Two years ago County Commissioner Ken Hagen suggested that the County create â€œchild safety zonesâ€ that would be off-limits to people convicted of sex crimes against children. He asked the attorney why the county did not include sexual offender in that ordinance.
Major Harold Winsett with the Hillsborough County Sherfiffâ€™s Office said he wasnâ€™t involved back then, but officials now are aware of where such offenders live.
The Commission then voted unanimously to have County Attorneys come up with revised language on the ordinance and bring it back to the Board. Commissioner Kevin White was absent.