A request to ban a registered sex offender from swimming in a community pool has been declined.
City officials said they can’t legally ask him to leave.
“Unless this gentleman should do something out of the ordinary, in terms of being a pool user, he has the right to continue to use that pool,” said Robert Sullivan, attorney for the city of Portsmouth.
The Portsmouth indoor pool is open to the public, including children.
Residents have been raising concerns over the presence of registered sex offenders at the pool.
“I went to the pool several times,” Sullivan said. “I interviewed a number of people about the observations they might have made about this person. For example, I asked them if they had seen him perform any lewd acts – that kind of investigation.”
Sullivan also contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire. The organization indicated it would protect the offender’s legal rights, saying: “The concern in these types of cases is that there is an equal protection clause problem. That would be the case if regular members of the public are able to access these public facilities, but a sex offender is precluded from accessing these facilities. The sex offender would be being treated unequally.”
Officials agree banning the man would be unconstitutional.
“I concluded that it would be violative of the man’s constitutional rights if the city were to prohibit him from using the public pool, merely because of his status as a registered sex offender,” Sullivan said.
The city pool is adjacent to Portsmouth High School, but police said the sex offender is not breaking any laws or conditions.
Officials said that while they can’t do anything to ban the man from the pool presently, if anyone witnesses the man doing anything wrong, they should contact the city.