So why are some neighborhoods "crawling" with sex offenders? Because the very laws being passed, that is why!
By Lori Brown
MEMPHIS (WMC-TV) – Do you think your neighborhood is immune from sex offenders? You could be wrong. Some neighborhoods are crawling with them.
Weeks ago, Action News 5 covered the story of a man who tried to assault a young girl walking home from school. Neighbors then said they weren't surprised, because many of their neighbors were sex offenders.
Clarence Johnson lives on Alma Street, near Klondike Elementary.
"My niece and I, we was getting off the bus, and right in front of my eyes, these grown guys were soliciting my niece, right in front of me," she said. "This guy…right in front of my face. I couldn't believe it."
At least one sex offender lives on Johnson's block, while another lives one block down, and dozens more within a mile of his home. In fact, 100 sex offenders within a mile and half of where Johnson's niece goes to school.
"The lady who used to stay at this house over here, her daughter was sexually assaulted," he said. "She couldn't have been more than four or five years old."
Johnson's neighborhood is like a lot in the Mid-South. The Tennessee Sex Offender registry shows 21 sex offenders within one mile of Overton Park. Meanwhile, 23 live within a mile of Douglass Elementary School, 38 live within a mile of the University of Memphis, 55 live within a mile of the Greenlaw Community Center downtown and 63 live within one mile of LeMoyne Owen College.
In the state of Tennessee, a sex offender who has committed an offense against a child can't live within 1,000 feet of a school. The TBI lists 58 sex offenders within a mile of Guthrie Elementary. Action News 5 found one offender, convicted with aggravated rape of child, who at 1,045 feet, lives just beyond that limit – if you travel by street.
But if you measure the distance in a straight line, he lives roughly 740 feet away. The man was convicted of aggravated rape of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. But since he lived at the address before he was convicted, the law says he can be there.
"By the law, we can't do anything," said Lt. Beth Hyman of the Memphis Police Department's Sex Crimes Bureau.
However, Hyman says there is something you can do: find out who you are living next to.
"I do it myself, to see what offenders are living in my area," she said.
That knowledge means power, and protection.
"Predators are going to prey on your kids," Hyman said. "If you're not paying attention to where your kids are, they can be a victim."