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VA: Officials address East Stone Gap residents about reported trailer park residence for people listed on the registry

Source: timesnews.net 7/21/21

EAST STONE GAP — Wise County and state law enforcement officials told a community gathering Tuesday that state law does not have a provision for sanctuaries for people listed on the registry.

The meeting of more than 100 local residents at the East Stone Gap Baptist Church’s community center brought Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp III, Sheriff Grant Kilgore, Virginia State Police investigators and other county officials to discuss reports of a residence for people listed on the registry being located at the Imby Lane Mobile Home Park.

According to a copy of a March 18 letter from park owner Imby Lane MHP LLC — obtained from county officials — residents were told that people listed on the registry would be allowed to live in the park starting Oct. 1.

“We understand this may not be welcome news by some of our current residents,” the letter stated, “and you may want to seek housing at a different location. If this is the case please contact our office number to discuss options for the possible sale of your home.”

“There is no such thing as a sanctuary for people listed on the sex offense registry,” Slemp said in response to some residents’ concerns that the trailer park would be a such a sanctuary.

Slemp said people convicted of a sex offense in Virginia must register with police in whatever community or municipality they reside and comply with probation, parole and sentencing requirements issued by judges in their specific cases.

“We learned that communities like these are popping up all over the country,” Slemp told the audience. “Unfortunately, Virginia law does not permit us to do anything about it … and the General Assembly has not given us the tools to deal with it.”

Slemp said he has met with law enforcement agencies and county officials about any legal options, including restrictive zoning or deed provisions. He advised residents to contact their state legislators to address the issue.

“Tell us, tell legislators what you think,” Slemp said. “They need to hear what you have to say.”

The Virginia State Police maintains a sex offense registry on its website, Slemp added, including lists of people who have committed crimes against children.  While many live in Wise County, he said, “A lot obey the rules. A lot complete their probation … keep the peace, do what they’re supposed to do.”

Sheriff Kilgore said his staff has spoken with Imby Hill’s registered agent, Florida real estate developer Jason Shirley, recently about his plans.

“This sounds more like a wish than a plan,” Kilgore told the audience about his investigators’ conversation with Shirley. “I don’t really see this moving forward.”

Several residents told Slemp and Kilgore they were concerned about many issues, including how distance requirements apply to people convicted of a sex offense to avoid schools, day care centers and attached playgrounds.

VSP Sergeant R.W. Hughes of the agency’s regional firearm and sex offense investigative unit said those distance restrictions generally applied to people residing near such facilities or loitering near them, not when these people were traveling to and from work or other allowable activity.

“The key is ‘live there,’ ” Slemp added.

VSP Senior Trooper J. Minton said police typically visit people who are required to register when they move into a community to make sure they are properly registered.

Hughes recommended that residents should document suspicious or illegal activity and report it to the sheriff’s department or commonwealth’s attorney.

Holly Maddox, youth program director at East Stone Gap Methodist Church, said she was concerned that the church was visible from the trailer park. She asked, if the church bought property within 500 feet of a person’s residence, whether it would prevent subsequent people from moving to that site.

Asked if the proximity restrictions applied to bus stops, Slemp said existing law does not apply to stops.

“I can’t give legal advice and I don’t have a very good poker face,” Slemp said.

“I feel like I’m being bullied by the owner into selling my trailer,” said a resident who did not give her name.

Fredericksburg, Virginia, resident Cecil Hensley and Independence, Virginia, resident Tammy Lawson both acknowledged they were required to register as they called for equal protection under the law for people who are obeying the law.

“My god is a god of second chances,” Hensley said of his experience after serving his sentence. “Barely 3% of former offenders commit crimes again. I hear a lot of fear here.”

As some audience members yelled at Hensley, Slemp asked the group to remember the words on the church banner behind the stage: “Extending his love, expanding his kingdom.”

“Every person in Virginia deserves protection under the law,” Slemp said.

Lawson told the audience that she had gone on to raise her children and become the director of a women’s shelter after her conviction. She added that sex offenses are classified in different tiers of seriousness.

“Public urination is a registerable offense,” Lawson said.

“It wasn’t his intent to bring outsiders in,” Chief Deputy Russell Cyphers later said about his conversation with Shirley, adding that any residence in the park was intended for local people that are listed on the registry.

“(Shirley) didn’t have a lot of detail,” Cyphers said. “He said he wanted to partner with local churches and groups and provide a place where people could feel safe.”

Cyphers said he has not been informed of any person listed on the registry recently locating in East Stone Gap.

“We want to protect everyone,” Cyphers said when asked about the possibility of any sort of action against any people moving into a community. “We have people listed on the registry who live in the county who obey the law.”

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I am encouraged by the words of Chief Deputy Cyphers who stated “we have sex offenders who live in the county who obey the law.” Although we know this, it’s good to hear a member of law enforcement state it. I am also encouraged that at least two registrants Showed Up – Stood Up – Spoke Up at this meeting and one of them correctly stated that the re-offense rate for registrants is extremely low. Thank you!

Thank You Janice

Local cops often understand the situation far better than county sheriff’s.
County Sheriffs understand the situation far better than State police.
State police understand the situation far better than the federal law enforcement. So why did the Byrne grant folks insist on caveats?
Because the tail wagged to dog on this one.

My friends that are residents of SW Virginia, my girlfriend and I were at the meeting last night. Before and after the meeting my group had discussions with the Chief Deputy Cyphers, Pastor, Holly Madox and even the Ag giving them stats on registrants not re-offending and contact information on advocacy groups across the country. My girlfriend who’s a journalist and law student wanted to interview someone and all declined to comment.

So very proud of you and your girlfriend. Amazing when outrage citizens who have been brain washed by the media are now being confronted by strong people such as you with the facts have then nothing to say. Thank you, Thank you Thank you.

Gwen

If we planted a seed in a person’s mind or heart I have no idea. We went to show there is opposition proving registrants are humans and it was the right thing to do. If anybody reaches out to Anne, my girlfriend I’ll be stunned. She can be very a persuading person.

Thank you, Brandon (and girlfriend) for educating those who attended the meeting last night! The education of the public including law enforcement is essential to changing their minds and hearts, to embrace the facts and reject the myths.

Great work Brandon!

Brandon. It was educational meeting y’all there that night. It’s just sad that before printing your friend, Cecil Hensley’s statement in the the above article, “Barely 3% of former offenders commit crimes again”, they didn’t fact check that. Actual the centerforchildwelfare.org shows, “About 12 to 24% of sex offenders will reoffend.” Diminishing his credibility even more when he lied about his offences stating he had one charge but actually has 4 crimes against children. Your views might have been better recieved if he didn’t lie and misrepresent himself. Also, the aggressive nature in witch the other, Tammy Lawson cornered, argued with and bullied, especially elderly actual community residents was unacceptable.
18.2-370 TAKING INDECENT LIBERTIES WITH CHILDREN Jan 30, 2003. Minor child
18.2-370.1INDECENT LIBERTIES WITH CHILD BY CUSTODIANJan 30, 2003. Minor child
18.2-370 TAKING INDECENT LIBERTIES WITH CHILDRENJan 30, 2003. Minor child
18.2-370 TAKING INDECENT LIBERTIES WITH CHILDRENJan 30, 2003. Minor child

Mike B, I believe that you have been misled. Anything that shows 12-24% would have to be data that includes all technical violations, that in most cases are not even felonies or misdemeanors. While the less than 3% would be refering to someone convicted of a sex offense who after release commits another sex offense. In many states that figure is less than 1%, in a few states that figure is as high as 5%. But in no states can a number above the single digits be found when counting people who completed their sentences and go on to commit a new sexual offense.

The higher percentage you’re showing is for ANY crime, not sex offenses specifically. Re-offenses on another sex offense is and always has been in the very low single digits. Someone committing burglary or some other crime isn’t a reason to keep the registry around. But it might be a reason to expand it to include ALL people with a record since recidivism for every other crime but murder is significantly higher than sexual re-offending.

Mike B. Those stats are for all offenses. When you think about the lack of available housing and jobs for offenders, there might be reasons they turn to crimes such as stealing. Also, one charge and four crimes is not lying. I was arrested with one crime but there were numerous counts. So my registry listing makes it look like I was arrested 3 times when I was only arrested once.

I was interviewed by several journalists sorry I missed your interview. Would you like to speak with me I’ll glad meet you or we can do a conference call.

I’m unsure who at the meeting felt threatened or bullied by me I was kind to everyone and tried to talk to people in a calm formal way even tho they called me a sex offender repeatedly. I qas placed on a registry 18 years ago for reporting a sex crime, that crime was that my 14 year old son was having consensual sex with a 26 year old woman while in custody of my sister both the lady and my son was removed from the situation she was taken to jail for carnal knowledge and he was put in a boys group home he is now 34. I reported that sex crime like any law abiding citizen should have, several weeks or months passed and I was directly indicted for indecent liberties with a child by supervision or custodial relationship subsection was used in that charge ti say I knew about it, encouraged it or failed to report it in a timely manner!! That’s where they got me reporting in a timely manner!! My son wasn’t in my custody at the time of the incident. No one ever told me I would be placed on a VIOLENT sex offender registry in Virginia for a lifetime, I have suffered many hardships because of that label SEX OFFENDER. The palm card or facts I gave to you was all data collected over my past ten years of research and dedication to educating the people about the truth. Don’t think it can’t happen to you children as young as 8 are on registers, urination in public in some places triggers you to registry, a 18 year old having sex with a 17 year old is a registrants offense. I want everyone to sit in crowds of 1000 people and pick out a predator…its absolutely absurd at the extra punishment placed on a labeled group of citizens who have families. There is no registry for the druggie next door who could drop fenytnal on the ground and your child could pick it up and die or overdose, there is no registry for a person who commits murder and moves in next door to you, who’s to say he want do it again or she….what about a robber or thief do you want them living beside you??? I’ll gladly talk with anyone about the registry and show you the true facts.

Yes, Tammie was kind to everyone she talked with, despite the hate and unkind way that some people were behaving.

I would not have been surprised if a mob followed us out of East Stone Gap.

What I felt was missing was a lack of understanding of just WHY we would drive so far to “protect predators”. We care about communities.

In this particular situation the idea of “predators next door peeping in windows” is a fear on the hearts of the people there. They questioned if it was, “fair that my kids need to be holed up inside”. They are afraid. The officials and community representatives, in my opinion, used that fear for personal and or political gain. They used this fear AGAINST the community of East Stone Gap.

Instead of addressing the fear as unnecessary these instigators infact, gave license for thier community to hate and target other people. It created fear instead of knowledge and “bred a bad flock”.

Thank you to those who are on the side of the truth.

I think you handle yourself
quite well after being called a sex offender to your face.
After I found out a couple days ago I have to remain on the registery for another 5 years I quit my job put in my 30 day notice sold my car and bought a 2015 land cruiser ima gut the whole thing and make it livable with a bed and everything its gonna be nice and very inconspicuous
For the next 5 years I’m nolong gonna be a active member of society I’m now gonna be a burden to it liveing off the hard working taxpayers dollar.
I also plan on documenting the whole 5 year experience as a homeless sex offender traveling to different states and counties doing whatever I want for 2 or 3 days and leaving before I have to register im also gonna reach out to local news and TV outlets in different locations and offer them an one on one interview about life on the registery and how i ended up in this situation

Last edited 2 months ago by Chad

Its crazy what people really think about sex offenders one of the people at the meeting was scared that you could see the church from trailer park that’s insane.
Sex offenders who don’t own homes are under attack and with California banning homelessness Transient sex offenders will be the first on LE hit list.
In other words If you cant find a place to live your on ur way to prison plain and simple

Good luck 😇

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