Judge's order may allow sex offender to live near daycare, park

Prosecutors believe location of sex offender's home violates state, local laws

CLERMONT, Fla. - Prosecutors have filed a motion requesting clarification on a Lake County circuit court judge's order to give a sex offender permission to live with his parents in a Clermont neighborhood.

The decision was made despite a state law and local ordinance prohibiting certain sex offenders from living near schools, parks and playgrounds. A separate proceeding in which Semento will clarify his sentencing order is set for April 16.

In October, Shannon Baruch, 25, pleaded no contest to inappropriately touching a girl younger than 16-years-old. Judge Lawrence Semento sentenced Baruch to five years of probation and ordered him to register as a sex offender.

Under Florida law, certain sex offenders "may not reside within 1,000 feet of any school, child care facility, park, or playground". A city of Clermont ordinance sets even stricter boundaries, requiring those sex offenders to live more than 2,500 feet from such places where children congregate.

Baruch's home sits 821 feet from a daycare and 698 feet from a community park and swimming pool, according to Clermont police.

When officers learned in December where Baruch was living, they notified him of the rules.

"This individual basically told us the judge said he could live there and refused to leave," said Sgt. Brent Joyner.

In Baruch's sentencing order, Semento wrote that "the defendant's residence will not be a violation of municipal ordinance condition or (probation)."

Despite the court order giving Baruch permission to remain in his family's home, in February prosecutors decided to charge Baruch with violating the state law governing where sex offenders can live, a misdemeanor punishable by up a year in jail.  Prosecutors have also charged Baruch with violating his probation.

In an email response to Local 6, Semento wrote, "Since there are pending matters in this case, I am not permitted to discuss it."

On Monday, Baruch's attorney, Wayne Golding, said he was unable to comment.

A Tuesday morning hearing related to Baruch's arrest was delayed until April 23 because his attorney  was sick.

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