ACLU Lawsuit Moves to Keep Sex Offenders in House Near New Day Care Center

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Published August 16, 2011

| FoxNews.com

The Delaware American Civil Liberties Union has filed court papers to stop sex offenders from being evicted from a safe house that is located near a new day care center.

The ACLU, along with an attorney representing the safe house and three sex offenders, has asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to prevent the city from evicting the residents.

“The state has asked the residents to leave, and if they don’t leave they will be arrested,” attorney Daniel Wolcott, Jr. told Fox News Radio.

Wolcott is representing the owner of the safe house and three sex offenders.

“The safe house has been there for a number of years and has been accepting registered sex offenders who are prohibited from living within 500 feet of a school,” he said.

Wolcott said there are two safe houses in question. One house was operating before the day care center opened for business. The other one was not. However, he said police said any sex offenders living at both houses would have to leave or face arrest.

Kathleen MacRae, the executive director of the Delaware ACLU, told The News Journal that the pending eviction of the sex offenders seems “very unfair and very rushed by the city.”

She pointed out that the ACLU has questions over the actual distance between the homes and the day care center. The ACLU also questioned whether a day care center qualifies as a “school” under state law.

The day care center reportedly began operating less than 500 feet from both homes in September.

“It is already difficult for men who have been convicted of a sex offense to find a place to live,” she told the newspaper. “State law should not force these men to move, or prevent facilities like the safe house from housing them, every time a private citizen decides to open a day care center.”

A city spokesman released the following statement to Fox News Radio:

“The City appreciates the predicament faced by the residents of the Harriet Tubman Safe House, but we are following the advice of the Attorney General’s Office and cannot comment further due to the pending court action.”

Delaware Attorney General Bo Biden’s office said they will not comment on the matter.

The issue has stirred debate in Wilmington. The News Journal released an editorial that called the sex offender ban unfairly punitive.

“As offensive as the tenants' crimes are, they paid their debt to society and earned the right to purse law-abiding livelihoods,” the editorial read. 

“Their home predates the day care center by eight years. This is not to dismiss the fact that even with treatment a high percentage of sex offenders -- pedophiles particularly -- will recommit their crimes. But a carte blanche banishing of all sex offenders to be on the run every time they have found legally acceptable housing is vindictive, reactionary and no solution.”

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http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/08/16/aclu-sides-with-sex-offenders-in-day-care-center-dispute/