I'm scared! Sex offender across the hall!

katysanchezMarch 20, 2007

I saw a link on here for familywatchdog.us and I decided to check it and I turns out there is a guy across the hall who has TWO charges of rape on teenager girls! I just turned 20 and knowing this is really scary. Is this any basis to terminating my lease? I want out!

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I certainly would direct this to the landlord and if they were not interested in your safety, I would leave! When we moved to an apt last year, we picked one that does background/criminal checks, it is certainly worth the extra rent you pay. Look for a complex that offers that feature.

Best of luck and let us know how you make out! Take action, it is YOUR safety.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 6:11PM
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Well, if you get the chihuahua, will your lease automatically be broken, or will you have to pay a lot to get out (dog or no dog)?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2007 at 6:48PM
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Every landlord I ever had did a background and credit check. Your landlord either doesn't do that or doesn't care as long as he is getting paid. Unless you find a clause in your lease that lets you get out of it, you are stuck until it runs out.

Personally I think anyone who touches a child should be spayed/neutered and locked away forever.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 7:48PM
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Two charges or two convictions?? Have the cases been closed?

Also keep in mind that the mere fact that as you say, that the victims are teenage girls means that they could have consented, they could have even been boyfreind/girlfriend, but our laws are written so that a person over the age of 18 is guilty of a rape charge if the other person is under a certain age. It does not necessarily mean that this guy is an "attacker". Different states define statuatory rape differently. Common scenario; guy is 18, girl is 17, dating, her parents press charges, guy is now a registered sex offender for life. It happens.

Of course he might be a sociopathic rapist who attacks his victims.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 1:46AM
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This is a real hotbed that contains many gray areas.

First, 'convicted' is the operative word here. 'Suspects' are not put in the database, only those tried, convicted and found guilty in a court of law.

And there could be a wide range of scenarios as bud_wi mentions. But the bottom line is the offender is there and you are scared.

You can check Megan's law for your state, and other laws on the books as well. Google Megan's law and put your state's name behind it, or google "residency restrictions convicted sex offenders Texas" (substitute your state's name in place of Texas). You might get specific details on laws (or pending laws being battled in court) regarding residency status and rights of offenders in your state.

Whether your state requires realtors/landlords to disclose this information or not is gray as well, based on what I've read with regard to Megan's law. However, I have read of situations whereby if something bad happens to a resident who moves near a convicted offender, and a lawsuit occurs, some courts are noting that realtors/landlords had a reasonable responsibility to check and then disclose this information to prospective tenants/home buyers before lease/purchase.

When did your lease start?

When was the offender convicted? (Some battles in court now are that newer residency restrictions cannot legally be imposed on offenders convicted before Megan's Law or Jessica's law went into effect.)
Databases are updated diligently, but there is some 'lag' time (could be days to weeks). So it is possible you got caught in a 'pause'. In other words, offender could have been convicted Jan 1. You sign lease Jan 4. Paperworks is processed and offender's name shows up in database Jan 10. You were caught in the 'pause', as you moved in during the time Offender was being processed into the system. Or, was he convicted after you had lived there for awhile? As with the crime, there are other possible scenarios with conviction and move-in dates that do not necessarily point toward the landord being uncaring and only it if for the $$.

Some landlords might not agree with me, but as a landlord and aunt to a young woman your age with a disability that makes her more vulnerable than average: were she in your shoes, I would want her out. Lots of distance between her and offender. Please do communicate with your landlord. Put it in writing and send it certified (signature required). Tell him/her that you have discovered tenant across the hall has two convictions, and being a single female, you fear for your personal safety. Print out the information from the offender's database, included it with your letter. Keep an exact duplicate of everything you mail for your records. Tell the landlord you are beginning a new apartment search and putting them on notice that you will be leaving before your lease is up and that you anticipate no negative recourse for your move. It's my belief that a reasonable landlord would not attempt to force a single 20 year old woman to live across the hall from a convicted sex offender. The potential risk would far outweigh the gain. If your landlord attempts to force you to stay in the lease, consult an attorney to see what your rights are.

In the interim, do not run around your building announcing to anyone who will listen about the presence of this offender. You may well find yourself at the center of a firestorm for violating this person's civil rights regarding residency. Like it or not, that offender has some residency rights. Before I get slammed for saying that, I'm not saying I agree with these rights, I'm simply saying they exist. Laws have been challenged in multiple states that convicted offenders, for various reasons, cannot be discriminated against regarding housing. Primarily it concerns blocking them from living within 2000' of schools, playgrounds or other areas where children congregate. It may well be, in your state, that your landlord cannot legally block this person from living in your building. (Not knowing your state and not being a lawyer, I do not know.)

Please read the two articles below on imposing residency limitations on convicted offenders and the ensuing challenge to that law by registered offender(s). If I understand correctly, Iowa Supreme Court stands firm, while California is still battling in this arena.

California Proposition 83: Judge blocks part of sex offender law. L.A. Times, Nov 8, 2006

Iowa Supreme Court upholds broad sex offender residency restrictions, Sentencing Law and Policy July 29, 2005 (read the comments posted below article this to see even more sides to the coin, some from registered offenders who have since conviction started families of their own.) Again, I am not agreeing with what's going on, I am only pointing out that there are new laws being put on the books and those new laws are being challenged in some states.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 10:32AM
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That is such great advice moon. I cannot imagine any Landlord enforcing a young girl to stay either. Seems they would know to let her out quietly, without incident rather than risk her safety.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 11:25AM
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First of all, tell the landlord. When he moved in, he might not have been on the application, or the list might not have included him by the same name at his previous address. The Megan's list in California has a photo which is a big help. but if you look at the photos--they all look like Jack the Ripper so if the name is common, and there is a different address than on the application a landlord cannot always make the connection.
When we discovered we had a registered sex offender we could not evict him because of that thanks to state law in California. However, the minute he was late on his rent, we gave the correct notices and we were able to evict for that reason, and knew enough not to give him a break.
Landlords do check extensively--who wants a criminal in the building? We also run a credit check and employment history plus legal records. But, would you believe somebody with that kind of record is a little devious getting an apartment?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 6:40PM
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He had to have been convicted if he is a registered sex offender. Duh.... It's not like you get this for having only charges.

I believe this may be grounds for you to move.

Your landlord could get him/herself into a major lawsuit depending on your State. One landlord lost his building, a 6 plex with 5 single female nurses and one sex offender who had rapped this age of women and some were nurses. He was in trouble for setting the offender in that situation as well as the nurses, some of who were rapped.

Most states allow you to decline any sex offender BUT if you rent to one you can not evict due to this reason.

California recently changed a law that does not allow landlords to even check!

Either way GET OUT! Its not worth the risk of testing this situation.

I check all my tenants but IF I missed one I would have the entire area aware of this, personal calls to all my tenants and give everyone the right to move out whenever.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 6:51PM
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Her original post said two CHARGES not convictions.

I had gone to check out this watchdog site and could not get it to work for me. Probably my browser.

Sometimes there are vigilante groups who set up websites and jump the gun on things without all the facts. This watchdog site subsists on donations, and is not a goverment agency. Like I said before I couldn't get the site to work so I don't know how or where they get their info. The home page of the site seemed a little 'rah-rah' and alarmist.

I think the offender registry gives people a false sense of security........ So there is one guy in the building who is registered. That does not mean that the other tenants are going to be totally safe to be around. You have to keep your guard up with everybody. Some have not struck yet..... Some have struck but have not been caught yet..... And some were caught but were found "not guilty" due to a lack of enough evidence or a paperwork screw-up...... And lots of sex offenders do not do jail time and only have to receive "mental health councelling" - they are found "not guilty by reason of insanity" so they never have a criminal record...... There are lots of plea bargains too..... For years priests were never arrested and the matter was always left to the diocese to decide.

Sex offender status does not always involve rape and torture. A teenager who sends another teen a nude pic of him/herself on their cellphone is charged as a sex offender. Public urination at a rock concert is a sex offender charge. A mother who photographs her own babies nude, is charged as a sex offender. Owning funny comics where the cartoon characters are nude kids, is a sex offender charge. These are not dangerous people everyone has to be afraid of.

The sad fact is that the vast MAJORITY of children molested, are molested by family members - not strangers lurking in hallways and alleys.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 11:15PM
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Like I said before I couldn't get the site to work so I don't know how or where they get their info. The home page of the site seemed a little 'rah-rah' and alarmist.

bud_wi, you are in Wisconsin, yes? Here is the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registry, if you're interested. (Each state has a database but who publishes it varies. My state's site is run by the state sheriff, for instance, not dept of corrections as yours is.) That database is where family watchdog gets info from. Here is a quote from Family Watchdog, created after Jessica Lunsford murder in 2005 (and what prompted Jessica's law): "Family Watchdog was launched as a tool to aggregate sex offender information from all states and distribute that information to the community using an easy-to-use mapping interface...Our service is extremely easy to use, contains information from all states, and is updated on a daily basis to ensure that our information is as current as the states from which we receive our sex offender data."

I perused Wisconsin a bit, it's actually very thorough, and includes additional crimes that my State does not. For instance WI includes 'Invasion of Privacy' , 'Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Disease-of a listed sex offense' and even 'Certain Crimes Against Property'. Also, offender's page contains more detail, some states are not so detailed. If you go to this page , about halfway down, you will find criteria for getting into the WI database.

So if anyone wants to check info for their particular state (the actual source that family watchdog uses) you can obtain info on what is deemed an offense in your particular state. You can google:
(Insert your state's name) registered sex offender database
(Insert your state's name here) sex offender registry

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 10:31AM
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Thanks. I'll check it out.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2007 at 4:24PM
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