Fort Worth neighbors troubled by lack of sex offender residency restrictions




Posted on July 5, 2012 at 5:51 PM

FORT WORTH - Neighbors are keeping a close eye on a registered sex offender who lives right in the middle of a school zone in southwest Fort Worth.

They can't believe city laws allow him to live right across the street from an J.T. Stevens Elementary School.

Dorothy Parker has lived in the area for 47 years.

"We need to protect our children," she said. "They're innocent. We are talking about kindergartners who are five."

The offender was convicted of fondling a child under the age of five, so he is required to register his address with police every year. But Fort Worth does not have residency restrictions for sex offenders.

News 8 checked the department of public safety website. There are 11 sex offenders within one mile of J.T. Stevens. The offenders have to check in with police.

A Tarrant County Community Supervision and Corrections official said the state does have child safety zones for sex offenders, but only for those still on parole or probation. Leighton Iles told News 8 once parole and probation are complete, it is up to cities to enforce their own laws.

Some North Texas cities have their own ordinances which set safe distances from schools, playgrounds and parks. Fort Worth does not.

In this case, the offender completed his probation, so he only has to register his address until October. At that point, Fort Worth police say he will have completed that phase of monitoring.

Neighbors still want to know why he chose a house so close to a school.