Do You Know If You Live Next To Sex Offender?

By ED GALLEK, 19/43 News Reporter

CLEVELAND - A convicted rapist or molester could be living in your neighborhood without you even knowing it.

Now, you'll get a chance to find out thanks to a 19 News investigation. Only 19 News has the list showing where sex offenders in Cuyahoga County live.

It could be a neighbor sharing a parking garage with you. It could be a guy in a house next to your child's school. It could be the one who just moved in down the block.

Try plotting a map where convicted sex offenders live in Cuyahoga County. They're everywhere. They're closer than you might think.

"Oh wow! OK," said parent Becky Howard. "That's not good."

Howard was shocked because she and her children live in a house located within the 44105 zip code. Seventy-five convicted sex offenders live in that zip code, which covers Slavic Village and some other sections of Cleveland's southeast side.

"I'm sure I'll be moving soon," said Howard. "Don't you worry."

The list includes rapists and molesters who've done their time, but judges decided that these people are so dangerous that they have to tell deputies every time they move to a new address.

Deputies warn neighborhoods about the convicts considered the greatest risk, but most of the time, you get no warning.

In Cuyahoga County, 44105 has the highest concentration of these convicts by far.

But 19 News found three other sections of Cleveland's east side with at least four-dozen registered sex offenders -- 44104, 44108 and 44110.

19 News went to Lakewood and showed the list to Mary Potts, who is a grandmother. We went there because of all the Cleveland suburbs, East Cleveland, Lakewood and Euclid had the most registered sex offenders.

"Goodness," said Potts. "Didn't quite think that. We always think it's not where we are."

Dale Kennedy is on the list. He served five years for a sex crime involving an underage girl in Iowa. He understands your concern, but only to a point.

"They think once you're guilty, you're always guilty," said Kennedy. "The neighborhood should know, so that way people can keep an extra watch. But don't say, 'OK, they're going to re-offend, just get them out of the neighborhood.'"

Deputies statewide started keeping track of these people in 1997. Now the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department monitors more than 1,000 sex offenders every day.

"We can't calm people's fears," said Lt. Doug Burkhart of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department. "If you have six people living in your area that are oriented or predators, that's a real concern."

Deputies said that sometimes these convicts do strike again.

Some other county sheriffs have similar information listed on their Web sites. Cuyahoga County hopes to create a sex offender Web site in the recent future.