Complaints about sex offender in neighborhood prompts councilwoman to raise concerns
Rose Mary Christian is mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore, at least not if she has anything to say about allowing registered sex offenders to live a block away from an elementary school, and just a few doors down from a church.
At the end of tonight's 25-minute session of the Batavia City Council, she announced there would be a public forum at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 16 to discuss the issue of registered sex offenders in the city. It will be a question-and-answer with Police Chief Randy Baker and Det. Rich Schauf, held at the police station.
She says she's received a number of calls and an anonymous letter regarding Charles H. Wroten, who lives at 214 S. Swan St., upper. Some nearby residents want him gone and they want to know what can and can't be done in this regard.
Christian asked the city attorney to look into the zoning laws concerning registered sex offenders.
"As far as I know there's not much we can do about it," Christian said, adding that she spoke with the landlady about her tenant and the woman did not seem amenable to kicking Wroten out without cause.
Can they put up lawn signs saying "Charlie Wroten must go"? or how about a banner that says "A convicted rapist lives here and he needs to get out ASAP"? And on and on.
"Landlords should have it on the contract...ask whether they've ever been arrested," Christian said, at least they'd know whether the person lied and broke the contract.
She claims there are 161 "sick" registered sex offenders countywide and 150,000 in the state.
As for Wroten, he couldn't be reached for comment. The lights were on in his nondescript white, two-story duplex unit. The door was open, but the glass outer door was locked. No one answered the loud knock at 8:45 p.m.
His crime is public record, easily available online. He is described as a bald, black male, 245 pounds, 6 feet tall, born Feb. 16, 1961. He was convicted, at age 38, on May 17, 2000 of rape in the 3rd degree of a 15-year-old girl. It is a Level 3 offense, the highest level for such a felony. He was sentenced to 18 months to three years and Christian said he served 18 months.
Christian brought up the highly publicized California case of high school senior Chelsea King who was raped, murdered and found March 2 buried in a shallow grave along Lake Hodges in North San Diego County. The DNA of convicted rapist John Albert Gardner III was found in her underwear and he is in jail after pleading not guilty in the case. He lives in the vicinity of the crime. In a nearby community, Amber Dubois disappeared early last year after last seen walking to Escondido High School. Her remains were found this week 25 miles east of the school. Law enforcement is working to determine if the cases are linked.
In any event, the specter of having sex offenders living near children is upsetting to many residents.
"We have small kids around here, and I have five grandkids," said Wroten's next door neighbor, John Butler, who lives in a house with his wife, Mary, and rents from Rose Mary Christian.
"If he even looks at one of my grandkids, I'm going to jail because I'm going to bury him," John Butler said matter-of-factly.
The couple is openly nosy about Wroten and keep an eagle eye on him. They note there are three children living just downstairs from him. They claim a woman dropped off a little boy at Wroten's house this afternoon at about 4:20 and they wondered if that's legal (even if it's the rapist's child).
But living on the other side of Wroten, Carissa and Chad Helsdon take a more cautious, don't-tread-on-me approach. They have three small children.
"I was uncomfortable at first, but he hasn't come down over here and we haven't had any problems with him," Carissa Helsdon said. "He keeps to himself."