High level sex offender can live near elementary school

High level sex offender can live near elementary school »Play Video
RICHLAND, Wash. - Jerry Sharp was not welcome when he moved into his current Richland neighborhood.

The 61-year-old is a convicted level three sex offender who has kidnapped and raped in the past is considered strongly likely to do so again.

Parents are alarmed that he lives a stone's throw away from Sacajawea Elementary School.

Carol Smith said, "I thought they had to be at least three blocks away, which still is even too close."

It's a common reaction. Washington State law says a high-level sex offender must live at least 880 feet away from a public or private school if convicted after July 2005 of a sex offense against a minor.
Also, the offender can't be on community custody.

The law on just how far a registered level three sex offender must live away from a school is clear, but what isn't clear to police is just how to enforce that.

Police agencies from around the Tri Cities and Benton County met to take a closer look at Sharp's case. It turns out his conviction came before the 2005 cutoff and he can live close to a school.

So, what happens now?

"We monitor him. So, that's all we can do at this time. The law doesn't give us anything more to work with,"said Capt. Mike Cobb with Richland Police.

Sharp still must check in with authorities every 90 days. The public will be notified any time he moves someplace new. Police also check in with the school on a regular basis.

Parents and neighbors are working together on this as well by starting their own community watch group.

Carol continues, "Makes you think of what your next move will be as far as protecting."

The hope is to make sure no one will go after their kids.

Anyone can track a sex offender and even get email alerts by signing up on the Benton and Franklin County's website.