Legal Loophole Allows Convicted Sex Offenders To Live Near Schools, Parks
BROKEN ARROW - In most cases, it's illegal for sex offenders to live within 2,000 feet of schools, day cares, parks and playgrounds.
But there's a caveat to that law, and it's a matter of where those offenders were living when they committed their crime.
"[I'm] scared, with three girls here, ages of 8 to 1--a little concerned about what policies are in effect here," said Broken Arrow parent Robert Fender.
Fender and his family live in the Wolf Creek addition in Broken Arrow.
One of his neighbors is an elementary school, and a few doors down on the other side of the street is where registered sex offender Peter Nolan calls home.
"Never thought a sex offender would be living here," Fender said.
Nolan was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in 2007. He served prison time and when he was released, he moved back into his parent's house, about 500 feet from Wolf Creek Elementary.
Police say Nolan has lived in the same house since he was 5 years old.
"When you leave DOC custody, you're allowed to go straight back to the residence that you occupied upon your conviction," said Sgt. John Adams, of Tulsa Police's Sex Offender Registration Enforcement.
Police say Nolan grabbed a 14-year-old girl in the neighborhood park Thursday and asked her to perform a sex act. The girl got away and ran to her school, where she immediately notified school officials of the attack.
If Nolan is convicted and sentenced a second time, by law, he can move right back in next to the school when released.
"So, you're saying if someone's a permanent resident here and commits a crime, that kind of crime, they can still live here?" Fender said. "That's not right."
Sgt. Adams said the Supreme Court ruled that sex offender registration is meant to help police know where offenders live, not to punish them.
"If we tell him you can't live in the house, it becomes punitive in nature," Adams said. "So we can't force someone to give up their residence."
But some parents say the loophole seems unfair to them and their kids.
"But he can force a child into a dark place? How's that right?" Fender said. "I think the laws need to be changed, need to be revised."
We checked online and found there are a number of registered sex offenders in Tulsa who live right by city parks.
Sgt. Adams said there's even who shares a fence line with a school playground, but wouldn't say which school.
He said the best defense is to get to know your neighbors and to check those online registries often.