Neighbors near elementary school send sex offender packing

Neighbors near elementary school send sex offender packing
RICHLAND, Wash. - It took less than two weeks for a convicted sex offender to pack his bags and leave the home across the street from Sacajawea Elementary School.

Jerry Sharp said, "I'm moving out today and uh I'm going to leave."

Richland Police sent out notices about Sharp on September 7th. He's a rapist, a kidnapper and a level three sex offender. He's considered highly likely to re-offend.

The 61-year old is not allowed at any city parks, schools or the library.
In fact, he's a career criminal, with dozens of convictions and known for failing to register his address with police. Despite the rap sheet, he's served his time and he's a free man.

When people realized he was living on Catskill Street, right across from hundreds of Richland school kids, neighbors took action.

The state has modest limits on where Sharp can live. He was well within his right to move into the home on Catskill.

One man told KEPR, "There's an 880 foot rule in the state of Washington and this doesn't fall into that so there's something's gotta be done."

That man known as "Torch" decided that "something" would be to stand on the sidewalk with his biker buddies and make sure kids got to and from school safely knowing Sharp was nearby.

Parents appreciated the effort. When KEPR went to check out the grassroots patrols, Sharp surprised us, coming out of his house to give his side of the story.

We asked, "You are, by law, technically able to live anywhere you choose so why leave."

Sharp replied, "Yeah, oh yeah, the law's in my favor but it's just, uh, the thing is that isn't acceptable."

That's why he says he's leaving Catskill with plans to live in his car.

The news spread like wildfire on our Facebook page. Parents feel they've scored a victory getting Sharp to leave when cops couldn't.

One parent said, "Well, it's up to the community to gather around, takes a village to raise children."

Some comments included defenders of Sharp, saying he's paid his debt to society and shouldn't be singled out.

Even so, keeping track of this highly dangerous sex offender will now be even more difficult if he's sleeping somewhere different every night.

KEPR notified the Richland Police of Sharp's plans. He is required by law to register with the Benton County Sheriff's Department every time he moves or every 90 days.

Failing to do so could result in his arrest. Sharp has failed to register his address many times before.