July 22, 2011

Councilman: Denver A Mecca For Homeless Sex Offenders

7-22-2011 Colorado:

Denver One Of Three Cities That Takes Homeless Sex Offenders

DENVER -- A sex offender living in a van in a neighborhood next to a park is raising questions.

"This is brand new for me," said the sex offender, who does not want to be identified. "I haven't had to live in a van situation."

7NEWS reporter Dayle Cedars wanted to know why he chose the location next to the park.

"I know some people in that neighborhood," said the man. "I grew up in that neighborhood."

He also said he felt safe in the neighborhood and that he thought living with a park on one side is better than living directly in front of someone's house.

What the man is doing is completely legal. He is not on parole and can live wherever he chooses; however, he said he recently moved to Denver after authorities in Lakewood said he was not welcome.

Denver is one of three cities in the state that allows sex offenders to register as transients; Jefferson County does not.

Denver councilman Charlie Brown said that is a concern for him.

"We are becoming a Mecca, not only for homeless people in general, but also for homeless sex offenders," said Brown.

Denver police said there are 70 to 100 homeless sex offenders at any given time.

The state law says a sex offender must register where a residence is established. Police said each county's district attorney's office interprets that law differently. In Denver, the law is interpreted to mean a city block or intersection is a legal residence for sex offenders.

But residents of Denver who live near this sex offender's van said that law needs to be changed. They've called the police numerous times on the van, but police said the man is doing nothing wrong.

''That is where I am lawfully supposed to be," said the man.

He said there have been so many complaints he is being pressured and urged by police to move. But he doesn't want to move until police tell him where he should go so he won't be harassed and forced to move again, even though he is doing nothing against the law. He said police won't tell him.

Revekka Balancier, of Denver Human Services' Denver's Road Home, said homeless sex offenders have very few if no options for help in the city.

"We are aware there is a service gap and we do need to do something about it," said Balancier.

Balancier said there are discussions taking place within Denver's Road Home about the lack of services for sex offenders; however, she said all it is right now is talk.

Denver's shelters only allow a certain number of sex offenders, and Balancier said there are no affordable housing units for sex offenders.

The Crossroads shelter closed down two years ago. It was known as the shelter that accepted sex offenders. The sex offender 7NEWS spoke with said he lived there until it closed its doors.

"I am scared," said the man. "I am frightened."

He said when sex offenders become fearful, there is a high probability of reoffending.

"I am fearful," he said. "I don't want to reoffend."

He said it has been a long time since he has had any bad thoughts and wanted to hurt someone, but he understands why people who live around him are concerned.

"I made a choice 15 years ago," said the man. "I abused two people, and you can't come back across that line."

But he said he feels as if residents around him are abusing him. He said he just wants to live his life, and he said he has been taught through his sex offense treatment that he should not hide or try to be secretive. ..Source.. by Dayle Cedars, 7NEWS Reporter

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