Sex offenders congregating at Gordon Highway motels

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August 9, 2006

Georgia House Bill 1059 has registered sex offenders flocking to Augusta's industrial section, away from residential neighborhoods, churches and schools.

The two most popular motels are along Gordon Highway: Motel One and the Relax Inn.

News 12 is on your side with how out-of-towners are responding, as well as how the moves may be helping the sheriff's office.

Chances are, travelers like Matheius Francis have no idea what baggage could be in the room next to theirs.

"This is my first time over here and I didn't know that," said Francis, who is visiting from Columbus, Georgia.

The out-of-towner is checking into Augusta's Relax Inn on Gordon Highway.

In a News 12 study, we learned it houses not one, not two, but twelve registered sex offenders.

Since the passing of House Bill 1059, it's one of only a handful of places they can legally live.

Investigator Ron Sylvester worries for their safety.

"It could make them an easy target, yes," he said. "Being all in one spot."

And he knows how tough it's been.

The purple portions of this map indicate where sex offenders cannot live.

Between the Relax Inn and Motel One across the street, 31 offenders are now squeezing under two roofs.

"There are some people who do not like sex offenders, and that kind of congregates 'em all in one area, which could be a bad thing," Inv. Sylvester said.

But so far, their presence has been accepted.

Neither managers nor customers have complained...not even Matheius. He says he'll just keep to himself.

"Stay in my room, lock my door and get on my computer," he laughed.

Augusta's motels aren't just housing Richmond County sex offenders.

In fact, a number of them are crossing county lines, including Leslie Powell of Burke County.

Powell was convicted in 1999 of enticing a child for indecent purposes.

She currently lives at 1370 Gordon Highway...that's the Motel One.