Nicholas Fitzpatrick is now homeless.
After serving time for sexual assault — he pleaded guilty to having sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend when he was 17 — Fitzpatrick hoped to move into a home in Trevor.
However, that home is less than 1,000 feet from a tiny park known as Jason’s Pond, and that runs afoul of Salem Lakes’ sex offender residency rules.
So he appealed to the Village Board for an exemption. Several relatives and residents spoke on his behalf. Fitzpatrick told the board he earned college credits while incarcerated. Board Chairwoman Diane Tesar talked to his parole officer, who vouched for him.
“If I don’t get approved here today, on (July) 11th I’m homeless,” Fitzpatrick told the board on Monday. “This is my last shot.”
But the board balked, and now Fitzpatrick has no place to live.
What’s ironic is that the board on a earlier occasion granted an exemption for a man who was convicted of possessing child pornography. So to a majority of board members, it’s apparently better to have a child pornographer living near a park than a man who, as a teenager, had sex with his underage girlfriend.
This isn’t right, and it points to the larger problem brought on by sex offender residency restrictions.
In our zeal to protect ourselves from sex offenders, communities throughout the country have imposed all sorts of restrictions on where sex offenders can live. Often they are forbidden from living near churches, schools, parks and other places where children gather.
The result, in many instances, is there is no place in a community for a convicted sex offender to live once all the restrictions are applied.