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Kat’s Blog: Rest in Peace My Friends

Was a homeless registrant who was found dead in the Michigan snow this week a victim of the frigid polar vortex that swept through half the country? (Autopsy report pending.)

Or, was he the victim of Michigan’s state sex offender laws which deny emergency shelter to “sex offenders” even during the most brutal weather?

What about the homeless registrant found frozen to death behind a Waffle House in Springfield, Missouri? The man’s snow covered body was found by other homeless people seeking shelter from the frigid weather.

How many registrants have to die, frozen to the ground before “sex offender” laws are changed allowing these human beings into shelters during emergencies? How far have we fallen as a country, as a society that we ban people from shelters, leave them to die in the cold and their death becomes nothing more than a quickly read and dismissed news article.

Andrew M. Rodiger, 58, died alone behind a Waffle House in Springfield, Missouri. The conviction that put him on the registry was from 2008. According to the county medical examiner, Rodiger appeared to be homeless and likely died of hypothermia. The Salvation Army shelters were open in Springfield the night he died but picture ID’s are required and “Sex Offender” background checks are done, this may have kept Mr. Rodiger out in the cold.

Thomas Paulie, 52, was found dead in the snow of an auto body shop in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Monday. According to homeless staffers who knew him it was unclear if he had attempted to seek refuge at one of the local shelters the night he died, but he had in the past and was always turned away. Michigan state law prohibits sex offenders from staying within 1000ft of a school. (I suppose that’s where all the shelters were located.) Interesting fact, shelters don’t keep records of those they turn away. I imagine if they were required to there might be all sorts of litigation by family and friends who find out that a registrant they loved was turned away by a shelter and left to freeze to death.

State Sen. Nancy Cassis who supports Michigan’s sex offender law thinks that the laws are sound and blames the “social safety net” for failing Mr. Paulie. Her comments “What other options did they give him? Were police contacted? How about the Salvation Army? Or soup kitchens, there’s plenty of them. What about synagogues and churches? I view them all as part of the safety net,” are callous. She’s reaching for any entity she can to be the scapegoat for the state’s registry failure.

The “social safety net” is a figment of Ms. Cassis’ imagination, it doesn’t exist for registrants. Let’s review Ms. Cassis, shelters are often the last resort for homeless, there aren’t a lot of options. Police are not in the habit of providing shelter in local jails. The Salvation Army checks ID and most turn away “sex offenders”. Soup kitchens serve food, they don’t provide housing. Synagogues and churches are places of worship, not shelters. Need I explain more?

The shelters turned Mr. Paulie and perhaps Mr. Rodiger away because of people like State Sen. Cassis, people who support” “sex offender residency laws”, laws that leave registrants and their families homeless or in cases like these, dead. These are the people responsible for Mr. Paulie and Mr. Rodiger’s deaths, not those running the shelters, they’re just following the laws that the states have passed. Don’t try to pass the buck on this one, don’t try to put the blame on others, the blame belongs solely on the states and the governing bodies that pass these laws.

Ms. Cassis goes on to say that “children should be protected from sexual predators, but you just can’t slam the door on another human being”, and then she questioned whether Mr. Paulie should have been released from prison.

For Ms. Cassis’ benefit let’s go over this for the gazillionth time, not all registrants are sexual predators. If Ms. Cassis doesn’t know that one simple fact, she shouldn’t be giving news interviews. And what gives Ms. Cassis the right to question whether or not Mr. Paulie should be out of prison? His offense was in 1991! He’d obviously done his time for his crime. He was released in 2003 and yet sixteen years later this registrant was still having difficulty finding housing. Sixteen years! What does that say about how Michigan’s sex offender laws affect registrants? Where’s that “social safety net”?

Lori King, supervisor of Degage Ministries Life Enrichment Center had worked with Mr. Paulie and described him as “a very quiet man with impeccable manners. He wasn’t at all what society would label him to be.” Ms. King wanted people to know that Thomas Paulie “wasn’t a monster”.

The blame for Thomas Paulie’s death, for Andrew M. Rodiger’s death belongs to the states and their representatives that failed them. It belongs to those who passed and supported laws which effectively banned registrants from seeking shelter in a storm. It belongs to shelters that discriminate against registrants with no empirical evidence to back up their “need for safety” claims.

They are responsible for these men and countless others who are dying cold and alone.

They are responsible for labeling these people pariahs in the eyes of society and for keeping them homeless.

They are responsible for the fictitous “social safety net”, for expecting others to provide the necessary support services that they should be providing.

The blame for Thomas Paulie and Andrew M. Rodiger’s deaths, for the deaths of all those registrants who die cold and alone on dark, frigid, snowy nights, in Missouri, in Michigan, anywhere, is solely on the states that pass cruel and unusual “sex offender” laws.

RIP my friends.

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Dear Kat;

This is wonderfully written, clear and to the terrible point. Kudos for for such a well thought out piece…is this submitted anywhere in Michigan or Missouri for publication?

This deserves the widest possible dissemination.

Just great stuff! Thanks…(I would be too angry to be able to write something like this, and besides, you obviously have the most talent between us {grin}).

Lastly, eventually, someone is going to have to bring a Wrongful Death case against the state and local authorities for acts such as this…win or lose, this would be a worthwhile project.

Best Wishes, James

AFFIRMATIVE DISABILITY the intent from the very beginning of the electronic blacklists.
The lists provide political cover for the two parties.

Senator Cassi asks if the man who froze to death had checked soup kitchens, churches, or synagogues to find adequate shelter. Is senator Cassi seriously so stupid as to make a statement like that? She is a senator but isn’t aware that there is a difference between homeless shelters and those other establishments. Is she too dense to know that soup kitchens, churches and synagogues aren’t open all night, and they aren’t generally in the business of taking in homeless people? One has to seriously wonder about a politician who doesn’t have even the simplest understanding of the structure of… Read more »

Kat, Awesome post, as usual. Not sure about Michigan specifically, but registrants are often banished by law in many places like churches and homeless shelters, the very organizations (and types of organizations) Cassis blames for these two deaths. It’s darkly comical, IMHO. Would like to see a reporter call her out on that statement. My only issue is that Cassis is no longer in the Michigan State Senate; her term ended in 2010. She ran unsuccessfully for the House in 2012, but I haven’t found anything on her political activity recently. If she’s in a position of influence, please see… Read more »

Actually this RSO died in 2009. I’m not sure why the article is showing 2018.
The ACLU brought suit over his death and the judge ruled RSO could seek shelter.

I also believe deaths of homless RSO are being hidden.

The information and statements reported as being from State. Sen. Nancy Cassis were those reported on https.// Law/story on Jan. 30. 2019. There is no information available regarding her address.

No registrant should freeze to death because of registry laws. Feel free to share this blog with the powers that be in whatever state you live in if you think it will help make a difference.


Did you send this to the boards and/or editors of Detroit Free Press, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Kansas City Star, and the newspapers in the state capitol cities? A specific version for each state could interesting for them to read and possibly publish. Just an idea.

A older RSO died from freezing when the registry just started in Michigan that got a lot of press at the time.

Michigan has a huge unemployment rate because of proximity laws apply in Michigan regarding employment and they list employers and verify a persons employment even after probation/parole so it’s easy to be homeless if you don’t have family.

Michigan has very sick n twisted elected officials that are not decent people. More bad than good unfortunately.

Posted the following on that story’s comment section – – as disqus_luBu5EBaDt: First of all, the “societal safety net” Cassis is talking about were also off limits to the sex offender registrant due to the very same registry laws she staunchly supports despite her background as a psychologist and (in theory) knows full well that most such laws are almost entirely predicated on false premises. Second, who is she to question whether or not the registrant should have been released from prison? He had obviously served his sentence. How is it reasonable or fair to suggest he shouldn’t… Read more »

Also emailed the editorial staff that I suspect their fact checking is lacking, based on their reporting of Cassis as a sitting state senator.

God is watching. When the doors of Heaven are shut to these people like they closed the doors to these poor registrants then they will understand what it feels like to be in these guy’s position.

Such a shame ! …… Thank you for sharing this article , Rip ! Michigan has gotten away with these kind of unconstitutional laws and acts forever , I hope someone send it to the right people too have this public . Its very sad too think Michigan you can drive across the whole state in a car in 6 hours one way and 4 hours the other and there are 45,000 sex offenders in this state. So Sad how they have abused their political powers to falsely convince the people of the state to allow them too continue to… Read more »

Pauli’s last name does not have an E, by the way. Also, you should have proofread your article. Thomas Pauli died in 2009, not last week.

Derek is correct-
My apologies to the readers in having misspelled Thomas Pauli’s last name and having mistaken the year of his death as 2019 when in fact, after a closer look, it was 2009. No excuses, don’t know how those errors were missed even “after” my proofreading.
The worse part is, ten years later and new registrants are still freezing to death.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x