A convicted sex offender living in Westbrook is suing the city and the police chief for passing and enforcing an ordinance restricting sex offenders.

According to Bill Dale, city attorney, the man is one of several around the state, all referred to as John Doe, fighting against both municipal ordinances and the state statute regarding sex offenders. The suit was filed in Kennebec County Superior Court.

Westbrook passed an ordinance in September 2007 that prevents sex offenders from going closer than 2,500 feet from a school, day care, park, bowling alley or any other place where children may gather.

Dale said the crux of the argument against this regulation is whether it is “constitutionally permissible” to enforce a new law on sex offenders who committed their crimes before the law existed.

“The question is, how do you apply these things retroactively?” Dale said. “They’re saying you can’t do it.”

Because the plaintiff is seeking money damages, Dale said, the city’s insurance carrier will handle the case for Westbrook.

According to Dale, similar suits have been pursued over the past few years, and not just in Maine.

“This is a phenomenon across the country,” he said.

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