Maureen Stilwell had a bad feeling about the property manager in her Wellington neighborhood.
He didn’t fit in well with the close-knit community. Folks didn’t like him, said Stilwell, who was on the board of her homeowner’s association at the time.
Stilwell did a little digging. She quickly discovered that her community property manager was a registered sex offender.
“I was amazed it came right up on Google,” she said. “I emailed the rest of the board and said, ‘We have to get rid of this guy now.’”
The man they fired has been a registered sex offender since 2007. He pleaded no contest to possession of child pornography in exchange for avoiding felony charges and a potential five-year prison sentence.
While registered sex offenders in Palm Beach County are forbidden for life from residing within 1,000 feet of a school, park or playground, they are allowed to work as real estate agents, property managers and some other licensed professionals. And, with the exception of some jobs involving close contact with children, they are not required to disclose their status as sex offenders to co-workers or clients.
No list of where sex offenders work
County, state and federal governments, as well as some non-profits, publish maps that show where sex criminals live. But there is no public database that shows where they work — a point some experts say may seem troublesome but does not necessarily put the public at greater risk of assault.
In the case of property managers and real estate agents like Stilwell’s, those who become registered sex offenders after being issued a license must report the crime to the licensing board or risk disciplinary action.
But some might be reluctant to self-report because of public stigma or the threat of losing their licenses.