The next day a community meeting notice arrives, announcing the town hall to discuss the new Level 2 Sex Offender that has just moved into the neighborhood. You look at the picture, and ...
it's your new neighbor?
Sound far-fetched? It's not. It's just happened on the Eastside and the community is up in arms. Like the Lake Stevens community asking how a serial rapist could be allowed into their neighborhood, this other Eastside community is asking, "why us?" And just like that Lake Steven's community, the residents of this cul-de-sac neighborhood are discovering that the laws are not on their side either.
And to add to the strangeness of this story, this entire case has never found its way into local papers. I wonder why?
So how did it happen? How does a sex offender purchase a home without anyone knowing? Given his official trial date, it looks like the purchase was made just before he was sentenced and required to register. There's nothing in state law that required him to disclose his soon-to-be sex offender status to the real estate agent representing him, so he was in the house before anyone knew - let alone with any time to react to a pending sale. Law enforcement couldn't even react fast enough, responding only after he had moved in and registered at his new address.
But now let's get back to the neighbor with the young daughters. What could they do in a system that provides all the protections of the sex offender's rights, but not theirs? How could they guarantee the safety of their children living next door to a man that the state has classified as "likely to reoffend"?
They moved. They put their house up for sale and left. Even the local real estate companies, in desperation, offered to sell the offender's house for him at no charge to preserve housing values in the community, but he wasn't interested. He had exactly what he wanted.
And what of the future buyer of that neighbor's home? Will that buyer be protected any more than the neighborhood was? Washington State law doesn't even require the seller or the real estate agent representing the seller to disclose that their is a registered sex offender living next door. Washington State RCWs only require that the following statement be on the seller's disclosure:
Seller's duty -- Format of disclosure statement -- Minimum information.
NOTICE TO THE BUYER INFORMATION REGARDING REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS MAY BE OBTAINED FROM LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES. THIS NOTICE IS INTENDED ONLY TO INFORM YOU OF WHERE TO OBTAIN THIS INFORMATION AND IS NOT AN INDICATION OF THE PRESENCE OF REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS.So one of the lessons here is don't assume that the laws or government are looking out for you. Be vigilant, because no one else is going to be. Use the resources that are available to identify the risks to your community, including sex offender websites like www.familywatchdog.us .
And here is the political comment that having my own blog allows me to make. if you really want to make a difference, vote for people to represent you that are tough on crime, and particularly tough on criminals that would destory the lives of women and children using rape and molestation. I think it's long overdue to get tough on the criminals and not on the victims of crime in Washington. And if that means changing party control of Washington, I think that this issue by itself would be sufficient to convince me - if I still needed convincing that Democrats were corrupting Washington.