Our neighborhood has 99 homes in it. The neighborhood is mostly upper middle class people in their 30’s through their 50’s. Many of the people who live here have children. Professionally, the people here have ordinary jobs: Cops, teachers, real estate sales, a couple of business owners.
A couple of years ago, my neighborhood started a neighborhood watch, complete with a page on the book of faces. The watch is not an official one with police involvement, it is being run by the Homeowners’ Association. When I was asked to join, I declined with visions of George Zimmerman and the “wannabe” label attached to him because he was part of the neighborhood watch dancing in my head. My wife joined the social media page because it is good to be informed.
The neighborhood is just about 2,000 feet from a school. This means that, being more than 1,000 feet from a school, our neighborhood is also a place where sex offenders can live. Of those 99 homes, there were two of them. Until last week.
One of the police officers who lives here posted a link to an FDLE sexual predator flyer for a third offender who moved into our neighborhood. Nearly ll of the people who responded were thanking the cop for letting everyone know. Except one woman, who said that the people posting should avoid spreading rumors, and further said that since we didn’t have all of the facts, we remember that it isn’t our place to judge.
She apparently complained to the HOA, because the entire thread was deleted because, in the words of the HOA, the neighborhood watch FB page is not the place to engage in hurtful gossip. She also said that since his crime was more than 20 years ago, we should give him a second chance.
I disagree in multiple ways. This is not gossip, nor is it a rumor. Verdict is a word meaning “truth” and once a person has been convicted of a crime, including molesting a child, it is a legal fact that the person is a convicted child molester. Letting your neighbors know that a convicted child molester is living in your neighborhood is not spreading rumors, it is spreading factual information about a convicted felon who is living in your neighborhood. This is the very reason why you have a neighborhood watch. If the board of the HOA wants to give him a second chance, perhaps they should hire him to be their baby sitter.
Incidentally, convicted sex criminal number two, who was convicted of molesting a child under 16 10 years ago while he was 30 years old, was arrested last night for talking to small children at a local big box store.