Irvine Arrests First Sex Offender for Violating Park-Visit Ban

A city ordinance banning some sex offenders from public parks was used for the first time this week

By Vikki Vargas and Melissa Pamer
|  Friday, Sep 7, 2012  |  Updated 8:28 PM PDT
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An Irvine city ordinance banning some sex offenders from public parks was used for the first time this week. Jean Pierre Nguyen, 51, of Garden Grove became the first registered sex offender to be arrested under the new law after he arrived at an Irvine park to play tennis. Vikki Vargas reports from Irvine for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on September 7, 2012.

Vikki Vargas

An Irvine city ordinance banning some sex offenders from public parks was used for the first time this week. Jean Pierre Nguyen, 51, of Garden Grove became the first registered sex offender to be arrested under the new law after he arrived at an Irvine park to play tennis. Vikki Vargas reports from Irvine for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on September 7, 2012.

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An Orange County man was arrested when he arrived at an Irvine park to play tennis this week.

A registered sex offender, 51-year-old Jean Pierre Nguyen of Garden Grove is prohibited from entering any park or recreational facility in Irvine.

The city is one of 13 in Orange County with such prohibitions, and Nguyen's arrest marks the first made in Irvine for a violation.

"This is the type of ordinance that protects children from the possible presence of someone who has been a predator against a child in the past," said Lt. Dave Klug of Irvine Police Department.

The city's ordinance went into effect in July 2011.

Nguyen has been a registered sex offender since 1996, when he had a misdemeanor conviction for child annoyance in Cypress, according to a press release form Irvine police.

Currently on probation after being convicted of indecent exposure in Garden Grove earlier this year, Nguyen was booked into Orange County Jail for violating his probation.

He was arrested as he went to play tennis Thursday afternoon at Citrus Glen Park.

Loc Pham said he was playing tennis with 9-year-old son when the otherwise unremarkable Nguyen was surrounded by police.

"I was a little scared. I thought, what’s going on?" Pham said. "Seven to nine detectives wearing black T-shirts – they just rushed in, snatched him off the court, handcuffed him out here."

Police said they were tipped off by the county probation department that Nguyen was frequenting the park.

The city's ban targets only those who have been convicted of victimizing minors. 

Irvine's ban followed a county ban approved in April 2011 to create "child safety zones" at county parks and harbors. Sex offenders can only enter such facilities after applying for and being granted written permission from the county.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has pushed cities to adopt such ordinances, which have raised concerns.

An April 2012 story in the Los Angeles Times found that the Orange County cities' ordinances had so far netted few arrests. The story said the Disitrict Attorney's Office had sent top prosecutors to city council meetings to persuade elected officials to support the bans.

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