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Springfield investigates legality of 8 sex offenders living in one home

Published On: Mar 05 2014 10:59:37 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 06 2014 12:34:21 AM CST

Some families in Springfield say a threat has moved into their neighborhood. They're worried about 8 registered sex offenders living under one roof in the Brentwood area.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -

On East Crestview Street just east of Glenstone Avenue, a house has become the focus of the Brentwood area.  It's actually not the house, but the men who live there, that worry people.

"I have a natural concern just like anybody would," said Cole Johnson who lives next door.

Johnson doesn't intend to leave, even though recent registrations on the sex offender list indicate eight men living in that house have convictions ranging from deviate sexual assault to statutory rape.

After discovering the sex offenders living in the house, some neighbors complained to the city, which is now looking into whether the men can all legally live under the roof.

"At this point, I cannot say definitively that they are or are not a group home," said Chris Straw, director of Building Development Services for Springfield.

Under the city's zoning regulations, no more than three unrelated people can live in the same house, unless it's a group home; those living in a group home have to meet certain requirements.

"They must be physically or mentally handicapped," said Straw.

It's difficult if not impossible to determine whether the men have physical or mental disabilities because federal law protects people's medical records, Straw said.

While Straw investigates, Johnson wanted to make it clear that he's not leaving because he doesn't agree with most of his neighbors.

"These are still human beings and people forget that sometimes," said Johnson. "They committed a crime; they paid for the crime; they're still a human being."

Johnson's sentiments aren't surprising when you learn his family story.

"My brother who is a registered sex offender, is also my roommate. So my house is on the registry."

His brother was convicted of sexual abuse.  Johnson said the incident stemmed from a night at a party that got out of hand.

"He never actually physically touched her, but because of the circumstances of the argument, things were said that they tried to improve intent," said Johnson.

His brother served his time and will register as a sex offender for life. Johnson believes society should ease up on his brother and other offenders.

"What good is it going to do to keep continue beating up the guys who were caught and were registered?   They've already paid their debt to society and they have to live somewhere."

Straw said he should know by next week whether the men are living in the house legally. If not, they can be evicted.