June 23, 2015

Elkhorn City Council denies sex offender's appeal to live with parents

6-23-15 Wisconsin:

ELKHORN—Before he was told he could not live in Elkhorn with his parents Monday, convicted sex offender Michael Hoffman Jr. pleaded with city officials, saying he will carry his regrets and bad decisions with him until he dies.

“My crimes carry a lifelong penalty,” Hoffman told city council members. “I have the proverbial scarlet letter on my forehead until I die. No matter what I do, how good I do or what I accomplish, I will always be labeled a sex offender. There's not another crime a body can commit that carries the same parameters of penalty and/or lifetime tracking than the crime I committed.”

“I'm asking for some empathy and for a chance to move past my crimes, only for the purpose of residency,” he added later.

Hoffman, 45, was the first person to appeal the city's ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders can live.

The council denied his appeal on a 3-2 vote. Aldermen Scott McClory and Hoss Rehberg voted in favor of Hoffman's appeal.

“I've had no one come to me with concerns about him living in my district," said McClory, who represents the district where Hoffman wanted to live.

McClory has opposed the ordinance since its inception.

Hoffman filed for an exception to the ordinance May 15 after Elkhorn police visited him at his now-former residence at 408 Amparo St.

Hoffman, who moved to Elkhorn in early May, reported his change of address to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registry, which he is required to do. Elkhorn police then notified Hoffman that he was living within a restricted area and needed to appeal the ordinance.

The controversial ordinance, passed in October, prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks, swimming pools, playgrounds and other places children frequent. However, it allows offenders to appeal the restrictions.

Since October, other Walworth County communities have approved similar ordinances.

Hoffman had hoped to be closer to family and friends by living with his parents, who recently retired. Moving in with family would have helped him with his own medical problems and allowed him to help his parents, he told the council.

Hoffman's attorney, Frank Lettenberger, presented several letters from neighbors supporting Hoffman's residency.

Lettenberger said he was shocked that Hoffman's appeal was denied because no neighbor spoke against his request.

“It makes no sense,” Lettenberger said.

Two neighbors and Hoffman's stepfather publicly supported the appeal Monday, citing Hoffman's character and desire to do good.

Lettenberger read aloud a letter from a former Walworth County detective who lives across the street from Hoffman's parents, encouraging the council to let Hoffman live within city limits.

“Instead of doing the right thing, those who voted against this did what was popular,” Lettenberger said. “If you murder a child, you can live wherever you want in the city of Elkhorn.”

Hoffman was convicted in 1989 in Jefferson County of three counts of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of bail jumping, according to Jefferson County court records.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison and eight years of probation, records indicate.

He also was sentenced in April 2006 in Waukesha County to nine months in jail after a jury found him guilty of misdemeanor sex with a child age 16 or older and not guilty of three felony counts of second-degree sexual assault with an unconscious victim, according to online court records.

Hoffman left his 2006 conviction off the appeal forms, which prompted questions Monday from City Attorney Ward Phillips and Mayor Brian Olson.

Hoffman said he did not list it because he thought the Jefferson County conviction was what was keeping him from living in Elkhorn.

“Being a young man and making mistakes, that I can understand. My concern is the '06 (conviction),” Olson said.

Olson also informed the council that if it wanted to approve the appeal, it could add restrictions such as how long Hoffman could live at the address. Olson did not cast a vote.

The next step for Hoffman has yet to be determined, Lettenberger said.

He alluded to appealing the council's decision and constitutionality of the ordinance in court, which “would cost the city a lot of money down the road,” he told officials before the meeting ended.

Before the vote, Hoffman told the council he would find someplace to stay if his appeal wasn't granted. ..Source.. by Andrea Anderson

No comments: