Sex offender rehab center to move

Wednesday, April 30th 2008, 10:28 pm
By: News 9

By Mary Joseph, NEWS 9

The owner of a sex offender counseling facility in Shawnee has decided to move the facility after coming under fire from concerned parents and community members, she said.

The owner, Holly Chandler, said she has been the victim of vandalism and a death threat after considering the Shawnee neighborhood for her facility's location.

Parents and members of the neighborhood handed out fliers and spoke out in city council meetings about the potential danger to their children.

"If you can't have sex offenders 300 feet from a school, why would you want a sex offender 15 feet from your backyard?" concerned parent Stacy Russell said.

Russell's yard is just a few yards from the building where Chandler had hoped to counsel low-risk sex offenders once a week.

"We monitor them," Chandler said. "We put them on [a] polygraph [machine] every six months to make sure they are not having any sexual deviant thoughts or any sexual plans."

Chandler, who has worked with sex offenders for a decade, did acknowledge the parents' concerns, but does not believe the weekly meetings would put the neighborhood children at risk. She thinks the busy location is actually a deterrent to offenders.

"I felt like I was doing a good thing," Chandler said. "I still feel like I was doing a good thing for the community, but they just did not want it in their backyard."

Until the vandalism and a treat to her life, Chandler still planned to the facility.

"Someone called me on my cell phone and told me that if I walked into this building, that I would burn and the building would burn," Chandler said.

Chandler said she will continue to counsel low-risk sex offenders, but not at the risk of hers or others' safety.

"It's not worth someone getting hurt," Chandler said. "My whole idea is to keep someone from getting hurt."

Chandler believes the biggest deterrents for sex offenders are the watchful eyes of a parent or guardian.

The building Chandler originally intended on using is up for sale.