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MI: 5 Homeless Sex Offenders Join Lawsuit Against School Zones

April 15, 2010

mlive.com: Fifth homeless sex offender from Grand Rapids joins lawsuit against state over emergency housing in school zones.
mlive.com: Lawsuit filed on behalf of homeless sex offenders seeking shelter in Grand Rapids.

A fifth man, identified only as “Larry Loe,” has asked to join four other homeless people in a U.S. District Court lawsuit against Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Attorney General Mike Cox, state police Director Peter Munoz and Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth over a law that prevents those on the state’s sex-offender registry from residing within 1,000 feet of a school.

Attorney Miriam Aukerman filed suit to determine whether staying the night at a shelter constitutes residency. All three of the city’s emergency shelters are within school zones.

In her suit, Aukerman cited last year’s freezing death of Thomas Pauli, found dead in a salvage yard. She said her clients were not convicted of serious crimes; three were high-court misdemeanors.

Loe wrote in his affidavit that he was convicted of attempted third-degree criminal-sexual conduct for having sex with a 15-year-old girlfriend when he was 19. He said she admitted to police that she told him she was 17.

Aukerman wrote Forsyth, the prosecutor, and asked that Loe be allowed to stay at Guiding Light. She noted a recent state Court of Appeals ruling said homeless sex offenders cannot be prosecuted for failure to register addresses if they have no address.

Forsyth responded in an April 5 letter: “While I can appreciate Mr. (Loe’s) multitude of problems, absent a change in the law or the issuance of an injunction, I am not willing to allow him to violate the law by continuing to sleep at the Guiding Light Mission. … Whether Mr. (Loe) should be allowed to register as homeless, however, is a decision to be made by Grand Rapids Police Department.”

Records showed that Loe signed a Grand Rapids Police Department form acknowledging he was advised his address, at Guiding Light, is within 1,000 feet of a school. The form read, “I have been advised that charges will be sought for my arrest for a residency violation of the Sex Offender — School Safety Zone if I have not moved, or have moved and not advised the appropriate law-enforcement agency of my new address … .”

The state has not yet responded to the federal lawsuit. Degage Ministries and Mel Trotter Ministries also are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The agencies said sex offenders were “generally denied admission” because the agencies are within school zones.

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