Are Sex Offender Laws Tough Enough?

By: Dave Benton Email
By: Dave Benton Email

Keeping kids safe, it's the number one priority for parents. Just last year the West Virginia Legislature strengthened sex offender laws. Now one family in Huntington says it's still not enough. They live in the Huntington City Mission, where a known sex offender also resides. The fact that a known sex offender lives at the Mission has some parents on edge.

NewsChannel 3 found a registered sex offender is living at the City Mission through the West Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry. A spokesperson from the Mission says they don't turn anyone away and that steps are in place to protect children living there.

Robert Bruyneel says the man came to his children on the street outside the Mission, hugged them and gave them candy. Now he's on a mission to have the man removed. Bruyneel has gotten more than sixty signatures on a petition to get the registered sex offender out of the Mission.

Bruyneel feels his kids are unsafe. Bruyneel's children live at the Mission with his ex-wife Abigail Ardry. Ardrey says she didn't know the man was a registered sex offender.

According to the West Virginia Code, Chapter 62, Section 12:
"A sex offender may not live or work within one thousand feet of a school or child care facility or within one thousand feet of the residence of a victim."

The law also states: ...the offender may not live in a household with a child under the age of sixteen.

Pastor Pete Davidson says the City Mission is doing it's part. Davidson says:

"Our main concern is the safety of our children. If we know there is a sex offender, we don't allow them in the Women and Children's section of the building."

But is it up to parents to protect their children on the streets? Ardry says she watches her kids closely, but you can't trust anybody.

Governor Manchin signed the Child Protection Act last year which doubles the maximum prison sentence for some child predators. As far as sex offenders being around children in a public situation, State Police say a judge would have to sentence an offender not to be allowed around any children within a certain proximity, and that's done on a case by case basis.

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