Residents ask Galveston to pass sex offender ordinance

March 28, 2011 4:50:30 PM PDT
A community in our area is calling for more to be done to keep sex offenders away from areas where children gather.

A group of Galveston residents say little is being done to protect citizens from sex offenders in their neighborhoods, and now they want the city to do something about it.

Karen Nugent has lived in her Galveston home for eight years, but three weeks ago she received a letter that made her want to move.

"If there's a man who describes himself as a serial rapist living in my neighborhood, then I don't feel safe," Nugent said.

A neighbor's homeowners association sent out a notice that a convicted rapist had moved into the area and the address was frighteningly close to hers.

"A friend of mine sent it to me and said, 'Isn't this close to your house?' and I said, 'Yeah it's four doors down,'" Nugent told us.

The news concerned her so much that she reached out to Don Ciaccio, a member of the Galveston Ethics Commission, for help.

"The schools and day cares need to know that they are not very, very close to a registered sex offender in Galveston," said Ciaccio.

But Ciaccio discovered that Galveston has no ordinance on the books to restrict where its 140 sex offenders live. He and Nugent are now asking Galveston's City Council to pass one.

City sex offender residency ordinances are common. Just up the road from Galveston, Dickinson has one requiring offenders live at least 2,000 feet from schools, day cares, public pools and other places where children gather.

"I know that he's gotta live somewhere, but not next to me," Nugent said.

The reality for her and other residents is that any new ordinance would not likely apply to an already existing neighbor, so the sex offender next door may not have to go anywhere.

Galveston City Council will discuss the sex offender ordinance at its April 14 meeting.

To find out if a sex offender lives in your neighborhood, we have a link to the sex offender database here.