By Scott Cooper Williams
Green Bay aldermen are acting to close a loophole that has allowed a convicted sex offender to live in an east-side apartment building over the city’s objections.
A City Council committee voted Monday to recommend adjusting Green Bay’s five-year-old ordinance aimed at controlling where sex offenders can live.
The issue came to light after officials discovered that [name withheld], a former Catholic priest who molested a young boy, was living in an apartment building, despite the city’s attempts at prohibiting him from living there. It turned out the city’s ordinance did not apply to [name withheld] because of how his conviction was classified.
Alderman Tom DeWane, president of the City Council, told members of the council’s Protection & Welfare Committee on Monday that as many as three other offenders might have similarly slipped through the cracks.
“They’re beating the system,” DeWane said.
The committee action expanding the ordinance so it covers convictions like [name withheld]’s now goes before the full council for final consideration.
Alderman Jesse Brunette, a member of the Protection & Welfare Committee, said that finding loopholes in laws is not unusual, and he remains confident that the city’s sex offender residency restrictions are working reasonably well.
Referring to sex offenders, Brunette said, “People living in the city shouldn’t be allowed an exemption because of some obscure state law.”
Assistant City Attorney Jim Mueller said officials have not yet determined if the committee action can be applied retroactively so [name withheld] will have to relocate from his Imperial Lane apartment — or at least get city approval to stay there.
Green Bay ordinance prohibits convicted sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, parks and other places where children gather. That covers virtually the entire city. To live in any restricted area, offenders must first get permission from a city board.
[name withheld], 69, was a Catholic priest in Green Bay during the late 1980s when he sexually assaulted a fifth-grade boy at a Catholic school. Convicted in 2005, he served seven years in prison and was released earlier this year.