February 10, 2015

Proposed Law Inspired By 2 Van Buren Sex Offenders Living Near Church

2-10-2015 Arkansas:

A bill proposed by a state lawmaker from Crawford County would prohibit Level 4 sex offenders from living near churches. The bill was inspired by two sex offenders who still live near a church outside of Van Buren.

Arkansas Rep. Charlene Fite, R-Figure Four, introduced a bill this week in the state House of Representatives that would add churches to the list of places Level 4 sex offenders are prohibited from living near. State law already dictates such sex offenders may not live within 2,000 feet of parks, daycare centers and schools.

Fite said she was inspired to introduce the bill because of an August 2013 incident near a church in Crawford County. Paul McGill is a Level 4 sex offender who had recently moved to Oak Grove Road in Van Buren. McGill was arrested that August after threatening the life of his caretaker appointed to him by the state, according to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.

Fite said the incident concerned some church members at nearby New Hope Methodist Church.

McGill and another Level 4 sex offender, Robert Ward, still live on Oak Grove Road near the church. They may have to move, though, if the bill is passed by the state Legislature.

The proposed law would not apply to sex offenders who already own a home within 2,000 feet of a church, although it would ban future new ownership of a home near a church. The bill would also apply to those already renting a home near a church, Fite said.

She said the bill does not prohibit sex offenders from going to church or being near a church.

The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office in August 2013 released a notice to area residents that McGill and Ward were moving to the 1300 block of Oak Grove Road outside of Van Buren. The men were set to be monitored 24 hours per day, seven days a week, by the Arkansas Support Network.

“I mean, we watch over them now. They obviously made some mistakes. We just watch them, take care of them,” Robert Lewis said Wednesday (Jan. 28). Lewis said he works for Arkansas Support Network, and has been supervising McGill and Ward for one year.

Ward was convicted of sexual solicitation and sexual indecency with a child in 2006 in Benton County, according to court documents.

McGill pleaded guilty to one count of sexual indecency with a child and terroristic threatening in Craighead County in 2012. The charges stemmed from offenses that occurred in 2011, according to court documents.

The two men were set to be escorted anytime they left their home by the Arkansas Support Network. Less than a month after they moved to Van Buren, McGill allegedly threatened to kill his caretaker with a lethal instrument, in the incident Fite said inspired her bill.

McGill faced a probation violation out of the incident, but was later released from the Craighead County Jail and sent back home. Shortly after McGill’s release, Crawford County Prosecutor Marc McCune released a post on his Facebook page that read, in part, “BAD NEWS: I was just informed that LEVEL 4 SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR Paul McGill has been released…”

Shortly after his altercation with his caretaker, McGill allegedly left his house and traveled on-foot to the nearby home of an off-duty police officer.

The off-duty officer and his wife said McGill had a weapon in his hand that looked like a large wrench and was threatening to return to the home he lived in and kill his supervisor. The police officer called the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and deputies arrived to place McGill under arrest.

5NEWS went to the home where McGill and Ward live, but both declined to speak on camera. It is unknown if either of the men own the home, or if they are renting.

Fite’s bill has been forwarded to the House Judiciary Committee. ..Source.. by Shain Bergan and Amy Slanchik

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