To comply with sex offender law, couple moves, leaves children behind

By: Domonique Benn
By: Domonique Benn

The eight plaintiffs who filed suit against Georgia's new sex offender law are now protected by a temporary restraining order, including two people from the CSRA.

A federal judge issued the order against the new law that requires sex offenders to move at least 1000 feet from school bus stops or where children gather.

But the new law still takes effect this Saturday for the thousands of other registered sex offenders in the state, and some of those people are having a hard time finding a place to live in Richmond County.

One family has moved two times and had split their family in order to comply.

"There's nowhere left to go," says a woman we'll call "Amanda". Amanda is married to a registered sex offender. She agreed to talk with us in silhouette about Georgia's new sex offender law, which she says is breaking her family apart.

"It's terribly unfair," she says. "It's double jeopardy. They are punishing them twice."

Amanda says her husband is on the registry due to an incident that occurred before they were married. Her future husband was in the military, stationed in Germany. He was 20 years old and involved with a 14-year-old girl.

Amanda says no sex took place between them.

And she says not everyone on the sex offender registry is a monster.

"There's violent people and then people where accidents happen. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time and did things they didn't think would affect them."

Her husband is a sex offender and must follow the new law in Georgia. By July 1, all registered sex offenders must move if they are currently living within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop or a place where children gather.

For Amanda's family, that means moving to Burke County, away from the several bus stops in her Martinez neighborhood.

This puts them at least 35 minutes away from family, friends, and their babysitter.

"We can't even keep our kids with us." The current plan is for the children to live with Amanda's relatives.

Investigator Ron Sylvester is in charge of making sure all of Richmond County's 209 sex offenders are in compliance with the new law.

Everything in purple on this map of Richmond County signifies where sex offenders can't live.

"As you see, it pretty much covers the whole county," Inv. Sylvester says.

"I think that they don't want them in the state of Georgia at all," Amanda says. "And that's unconstitutional and unfair."

Many sex offenders are trying to move out of state because of the new law. But because of their sex offender status, many other states are refusing to transfer them into their sex offender tracking system.


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