Sex offenders move to hotels to comply with HB1059

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July 3, 2006

More than 170 of Richmond County's registered sex offenders can stay put if they live near a school bus stop.

Last week a federal judge temporarily blocked the state from banning registered sex offenders from living near bus stops.

However, nearly 40 of the county's sex offenders have moved because they live too close to a church.

Others are moving just in case the block is lifted after next week's hearing.

And investigators tell News 12 there are only a handful of safe zones in Richmond County where sex offenders can live and still be in compliance with the law.

"The majority of the ones that move, move to the area of Gordon Highway and Molly Pond Road," says Inv. Ron Sylvester. "There's two hotels there that meet the requirements that the new statute."

Inv. Sylvester says about 20 registered sex offenders are living at Adams Inn and Relax Inn, both right across the street from each other.

When managers from both places were asked about sex offenders living in their hotels...

"I don't want to comment on the news channel," one woman said.

"I'm sorry no comment," said a man.

One manager says he will not discriminate.

But that's what many registered sex offenders feel House Bill 1059 is doing.

Sex offenders cannot live within 1000 feet of a list of places where children congregate. House Bill 1059 adds churches and school bus stops to the list.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the portion that says the state can ban sex offenders from living near school bus stops, but Inv. Sylvester says all other restrictions will be enforced.

"Just waiting until July 11th to find out what they will do with the school bus stops," he says, "but until then we'll be enforcing the law minus the school bus stops, so we'll be enforcing the churches."

The state attorney general is appealing the judge's decision.

Meanwhile, the judge will decide whether to make the ruling permanent during a July 11 hearing.