Would you live next door to a sex offender?
February 19, 2014 10:32 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend and I put an offer on a house two weeks ago, and only thought now to check the sex offender registry. Turns out the guy next door was convicted in 2004 of aggravated sexual battery. Is this a deal breaker? I can't imagine her being alone at home with someone like that so close by. I really think we need to get out of the deal and look for another place but we really like this one and it's a bummer to start the whole process again.
posted by Clustercuss to Home & Garden (59 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes, of course it is a deal breaker.* You probably passed up homes for lesser flaws like layout or having enough space in the closet. Talk to your agent and follow the withdrawal or cancellation process.

* In my opinion -- there is no objective answer to this question.
posted by michaelh at 10:37 AM on February 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

I notice you talking about how YOU feel about your girlfriend being home alone, but how does SHE feel? It's not clear from how you phrased the question whether this is something you're both wondering about, or if it's just you.

That said, I believe that with the information you have on the registry you could track down the specifics of the case (which I believe would be in public record) and that may give you more detail to help you decide either way. Meaning - you could either find that this was a single argument with an old girlfriend that just escalated and he had never done anything like this before, or you could find that this is a pattern of behavior on his part. Either case would call for a different reaction from me, personally.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2014 [17 favorites]

Your girlfriend has very likely lived next to, above, below, or down the block from someone who committed sexual offenses and/or other crimes. She just didn't know it, and neither did you. You will come into contact with people every day who have done or are doing heinous things, and many of them will never have a record.

Was his offense against a random person? Someone in his family? A minor? His then-girlfriend?

This can be a dealbreaker for you if it's a dealbreaker for you. None of us here are you.
posted by rtha at 10:38 AM on February 19, 2014 [74 favorites]

I'm a pretty liberal, open minded guy. I believe in redemption, forgiveness, and trust. I believe that one crime does not necessarily condemn a person to a life of crime. I believe that there are often two sides to every story.

That said, if it were me, there is no way on earth I'd buy that house, no matter how perfect it seems. I'd never be truly comfortable leaving my wife (or in your case gf) alone and I'd probably perceive every little thing as evidence that this guy was stalking her.

Get out of the deal.
posted by robverb at 10:39 AM on February 19, 2014 [7 favorites]

I'd want more details about what happened, ala rtha's questions.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:39 AM on February 19, 2014

Is this a deal breaker?

The fact that you posted this on Ask Metafilter suggests it is.

I can't imagine her being alone at home with someone like that so close by.

Why isn't she part of this discussion then?

Also, the thing about the sex offender registries is that they only have sex offenders. Murderers, thieves, white collar criminals, and the mafia are not on the list. It is likely that you have always lived next to criminals.
posted by saeculorum at 10:40 AM on February 19, 2014 [15 favorites]

This wouldn't be a dealbreaker for me (late 20s woman who has been the victim of stalking and violence) basically for the reasons rtha stated. The sex offender registry is extremely flawed, and there are a lot of horrible crimes that don't have a similar thing to the registry. At some point, you have to know that any of your neighbors may be violent criminals and you don't know about it, and act accordingly.

I would try to look into the case and see if I could get details -- "sexual battery" covers a lot of different things, many of which have no bearing to him being likely to attack you or your girlfriend.
posted by brainmouse at 10:42 AM on February 19, 2014 [8 favorites]

There are convicted sexual offenders living everywhere. You have no idea about the context of this guy's assault, but most likely it was against someone he already knew. You also don't know who will move into the neighborhood after you.

For me, this would not be a deal breaker.
posted by latkes at 10:43 AM on February 19, 2014

rtha has it. you are basically surrounded by criminals of various sorts at any given time unless you live in the middle of nowhere in an area with very low population density. and that's just the criminals who have had contact with the criminal justice system, never mind the ones who behaved in exploitative, violent, or sexually aggressive ways and never happened to get caught.

do what you think is right. if you're really troubled by this then it's a dealbreaker. talk to your girlfriend about it and ask her what she thinks.
posted by zdravo at 10:43 AM on February 19, 2014

I'm of the mind that we rub shoulders with evil every day. You may find that all of the homes you look at are in the proximity of a malevelent evil doer.

Hard to say.

You might double check to see that the guy still lives there. Who knows when that registry was last updated. You might look up the case to see what it was about.

But, if it bugs you, it bugs you and it's certainly within your due diligence period.

Now, what happens when you buy a house, and a sex offender moves in next door to you after you've lived there for awhile?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:44 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

People get labeled as sex offenders for a whole bunch of reasons, not all of which involve violence.

For instance, someone I know is on the SA list because of sexual contact they had as a kid with another kid. This person is actively engaged in a program of recovery and is one of the kindest and highest-integrity people I know.

So no, I would not consider it an automatic dealbreaker. I would find out the nature of the person's offense and consider whether the offense was a violent one. I would also see what I could find out online and talk to the neighbors.
posted by ottereroticist at 10:45 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd look into it a little more closely. There are a slew of people on sex offender registries that are very unpleasant people. There are also a slew of people on sex offender registries that haven't done anything worse than most of the rest of us, they just managed to get a raw deal somehow.

In this specific case, "aggravated sexual battery" could mean a fairly wide variety of things. In my state, "aggravated indecent assault" does include exactly what it sounds like. It it also includes a high school senior having sex with a high school freshman, which if he's 18 and she's 14 is illegal. But not the kind of thing that should bother you in the same way as if he had been 30, you know?

So "someone like that" is someone like. . . what exactly? Someone with a criminal history. Dude. You would be surprised how many people you passed within 10 feet of last week that have a criminal history. Quite possibly more serious than this guy's.

All of that being said, the fact that you're asking this demonstrates that people care about it. Which means you might want to be asking a different question: will having this guy next door make it hard to sell the house? That's a very different--and much less loaded--question than asking whether you want to live next to the guy. Indeed, the answers to those questions could be different. But it is something you'll want to think about. If he's renting, you can maybe ignore it. If he own's the place, it's an issue to mull over.

But I would not make a reflexive decision on the guy's mere presence on the list. See if you can figure out what he did. Heck, odds are decent that he shows up in a news story somewhere. That could tell you a lot about what you need to know. Also know that most of the information related to the case is going to be a matter of public record. You can probably look up his criminal docket online.

If that doesn't pan out, I bet that if you called the cops or the DA's office you could find someone willing to fill you in about the case.
posted by valkyryn at 10:47 AM on February 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

On the one hand, sure, if she is uncomfortable with this, it's a dealbreaker. No one should have to live near someone they don't want to live near for whatever reason. And this is isn't even a "whatever" reason.

On the other hand, I just put my zip code into the state database and if I'm reading this correctly there are at least a dozen registered sex offenders living in a ~1m radius around me and the rest of the borough is equally dense. And that's just sex offenders. So while "next door" is something she can get away from, totally being not around sex offenders (or criminals otherwise) is a longshot.
posted by griphus at 10:47 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

How does your girlfriend feel about it?

I don't think it matters whether this is a dealbreaker for you, unless you maybe have an anxiety disorder and it's going to keep you awake nights.

If I were your girlfriend, I would want more details but it wouldn't be an all-out dealbreaker for me. Everyone is different though, so you should check in with her.
posted by Sara C. at 10:48 AM on February 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

The cops in your area will probably have lots of information that isn't in the official record. Go talk to them.

Aggravated sexual battery is unlawful sexual contact with a victim by the defendant or the defendant by a victim accompanied by any of the following circumstances:
• Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act and the defendant is armed with a weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead the victim reasonably to believe it to be a weapon;
• The defendant causes bodily injury to the victim;
• The defendant is aided or abetted by one (1) or more other persons; and
(A) Force or coercion is used to accomplish the act; or
(B) The defendant knows or has reason to know that the victim is mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless; or
• The victim is less than thirteen (13) years of age.
After committing this crime the defendant must register as a sex offender.

posted by theora55 at 10:49 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I work with sex offenders as part of my job. I get the chance to know these people well and most of the time they aren't different from all the other people in the world. They are stigmatized beyond belief and have so much institutionalized discrimination. I'm not saying what happened wasn't wrong or they are not guilty. I'm saying compared to other crimes they are treated much worse regardless of the type of sex offence. I do believe some should be on a registry for life but I think it is used to liberally.

I'd look up as much detail as you can get about the crime and base it that way. No matter what you will most likely live near someone who has committed a similar crime and just hasn't gotten caught. Or has committed a crime that doesn't have a registry.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:53 AM on February 19, 2014 [11 favorites]

Best answer: many states require the seller to list this information on the disclosure statement, if known to the seller, as this likely is, which could get you out of the deal.

it wouldn't be a dealbreaker for an older single male gunowner like me, but if there were women or children here? nuh-uh.
posted by bruce at 10:55 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just as a note registries do not list the gender of the victim. So making assumptions that a woman is less safe than a man is not a good idea.

Every registry is different but in this state they do list if it was against a minor if it was.
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:58 AM on February 19, 2014 [10 favorites]

Just FYI, "aggravated sexual battery" is a term defined differently in different jurisdictions. Your state could have a different definition of what exactly "Aggravated Sexual Battery" entails, you'd have too look it up.

The definition quoted by theora55 above looks like Tennessee's laws. However, Georgia's laws, for example, state, "A person commits the offense of aggravated sexual battery when he or she intentionally penetrates with a foreign object the sexual organ or anus of another person without the consent of that person." Pretty big difference for potential behaviors that fall under those laws, I think. TN's laws talk about harm not caused by a foreign object, for example.

Ultimately, as others have pointed out, you really need the details of this specific case, otherwise you're going to either give up a great house for no reason (and unfairly shun someone) OR give a pass to someone you maybe shouldn't.
posted by lesli212 at 11:00 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Dealbreaker. Not just no, but hell no. Google the details of the case, but I wouldn't buy it.
posted by corb at 11:02 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 2004 - can you verify that the felon in question in fact still resides next door?

(I'd pass it up, but I'd be verifying facts first).
posted by Dashy at 11:04 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

There's no objective answer...

I lived next to a sex offender last year (I'm female and in my 30s) and I was pretty alarmed to discover this fact a few months after I moved in. For renting here in Colorado, landlords are not required to disclose as the information is available to the public.

I was upset about it and chatting with an online friend who works with this population all the time. His advice, in paraphrase: There are plenty of murderers and other people who commit crimes out there and many are never caught. You have the advantage of knowing this person's history and acting responsibly.

It was great advice. This man was my neighbor, he never bothered me, and everything worked out OK. I just felt a little bit more cautious but prepared.

Not everyone would agree. If you plan to resell within a few years, this might be a problem.
posted by mochapickle at 11:06 AM on February 19, 2014 [11 favorites]

Have you checked to see if you're living near one now?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:07 AM on February 19, 2014 [14 favorites]

This is a personal choice (I would be fine with it, but would make sure my wife was comfortable too).
If you live in a state that requires disclosing of this information, I would reconsider, as with your present knowledge, you would need to disclose it when selling the property, which would affect how easily it sells and the price.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 11:12 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you need to sell the house in a hurry for whatever reason, the next buyers might be sitting there deciding if it's a dealbreaker too. Something to consider.
posted by jamesonandwater at 11:13 AM on February 19, 2014 [9 favorites]

Look on the bright side - at least you know what this person has done (or at least what they were convicted of). I rented a place years ago where my next door neighbor was a "person of interest" in a double murder. Guy was super nice, had a professional job, and, until he was arrested, had a great life. None of the other neighbors knew he was under investigation until the cops showed up to raid his house on day. Like others have said upthread - you pass by and live by people who have probably done far worse than this person, it just so happens you know about their mistakes.

You don't mention if you have or want kids. Personally, I wouldn't want to live next to a registered sex offender (particularly a Level 3) if I had or were planning to have children, but that's me.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 11:17 AM on February 19, 2014

Best answer: I think researching this guy's past is not a good idea. It's a never-ending rabbit hole. Sure, you can dig up intel on the conviction, but even if it turns out the nature of the crime was one you feel is "acceptable", will you ever be able to truly shut down your vigilance? Will you keep looking for signals that he may be heading for trouble again? Do you really feel qualified to do an amateur psychological analysis of this person? I'm a little twitchy at people here suggesting that you can glean any truly useful and predictive info from doing research into public records.

There are plenty of houses you can opt into that won't involve this potential angst and anxiety. Yes, people are capable of redemption and rehabilitation; and yes, sex offenders are tremendously stigmatized; and hell yes, that jive-ass sex offender registry is a POS; but why not opt out of this potentially stressful sitch, and find one where none of this is a concern?

Having creepy/crappy relations with a next-door neighbor is a surefire way to make your daily life really not-happy. Neighbors can make or break a home.
posted by nacho fries at 11:18 AM on February 19, 2014

i've never lived in a place where i was more than a block from someone on the registry. chances are any house you buy will be closer than you'd like to someone on the registry.
posted by nadawi at 11:19 AM on February 19, 2014 [8 favorites]

There are plenty of houses in the world with faulty wiring, but that doesn't mean you should shrug your shoulders and move on in to a house that you KNOW has faulty wiring.

Even "just" forcible penetration with a foreign object is quite bad, and I would not like to live next to someone who was convicted of anything like that. It doesn't make you unfair or illogical to agree with me.

And frankly, given the difficulty inherent in obtaining convictions for sex offenses, I would assume they pled to something much less bad than what they actually did.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:19 AM on February 19, 2014 [7 favorites]

Yeah, I'm with jamesonandwater; my concern would be if you ever want to resell the place.
posted by mlle valentine at 11:20 AM on February 19, 2014

I passed up a really good deal on a rental because it was next door to a sex offender. The conviction was old, and I couldn't find details, but I am a single woman with small children and it is not a risk I was able to knowingly take. Sure, there are probably criminals around me everywhere, but when you KNOW something is when you have the choice to take action, and I think that's pretty rational.

That said, one of my best friends is a registered sex offender - "against a minor," no less. Apparently at 21 he was somewhat of an immature idiot who hooked up with a 17-year-old girl who was living in the foster care system and caused a stink. So yeah, there are a pretty wide range of ways people end up on there, but I would definitely at least look into it and consider.
posted by celtalitha at 11:20 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

No offense, theorea55, but answers like yours are why those of us who are lawyers really don't like citing statutes on AskMe. We have no idea which state this guy was convicted in, and so no way to tell whether the statute you cited--which links to a Yahoo Answer, not an official statutory compilation--is the right one.
posted by valkyryn at 11:25 AM on February 19, 2014 [13 favorites]

And remember: just because he may have only been caught and convicted once, doesn't at all mean that he's never committed other sex crimes before (or since).

(I'm really grossed out at suggestions that maybe it was "only" that he had a "one-off" battery on an ex. WTF.)
posted by nacho fries at 11:26 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Agreed on the resell, if it gives you pause it may give future buyers pause or limit your buyer pool.

There are thousands of "deal breakers" for home buyers. This wouldn't be a deal breaker for me, but then again I happen to live under a set of power lines. We weighed attractiveness of the home vs the risks and the house won.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 11:31 AM on February 19, 2014

I think it's weird that there isn't anything in this question about how she feels about living next door to a sex offender.

I endorse talking to your prospective neighbors before/during this process. What are the people like who live on the other side of the house from the sex offender? What about the people across the street? If they seem ok and that they think the sex offender is ok, would you talk to him? Or is his life basically over from your perspective?
posted by Kwine at 11:35 AM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

You don't need anyone else's permission to not buy this house. You seem unsettled by it so go ahead and buy a house you aren't unsettled about.

But here are some things to think about. Sex offender registries are flawed as has been noted above. If you look at maps of sex offenders in many areas it is hard to find a place where you don't have any nearby (other than maybe next to a school in places where sex offenders can't live within a certain distance), and I'm not sure whether living near a registered sex offender really increases your risk of anything (would love to see studies on this if they exist).

Most of all, in the next house you buy, a sex offender might be able to move into the house next door without warning at any time. Are you going to sell your house and move if that happens?
posted by grouse at 11:43 AM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't understand why everyone here thinks your opinion is irrelevant and it is only up to your wife. I think there is nothing wrong with making choices about your wife's safety in a situation like this, even if she isn't concerned. Part of being a good husband is looking out and protecting your wife, in a way that you don't need to be protected.

Specifically, see if you can find out a little more information (if it's available). Did he make a mistake 25 years ago with his 18 year old girlfriend? Or is this something more heinous. Ultimately, do what you feel is right. Your job here isn't to do what is best for society, or to uphold some moral belief in recovery. All you need to do is what is best for you and your wife.
posted by jjmoney at 12:00 PM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Even if you choose another house, there's nothing stopping someone else from moving in a door or two down the street.
posted by barnone at 12:05 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would want to find out more about the crime. In my mind, the registry casts too wide of a net. I don't need to be warned about the guy who was convicted for sleeping with his girlfriend who was just a couple years younger. I do need to be warned about who used force or threats against his victim.

Another thought, if you're questioning your purchase, then when you go to sell, you might have a difficult time if this guy is still living there at the time. I would buy it for this reason alone.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:08 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, assuming he really does live next door, let me say this: is this a home you plan to stay in a long time, or sell eventually?

How easy would it be to sell if people know that guy lives there?

Did you get a good deal on this home? Maybe him being there is the reason.

But yeah, sex offenders are everywhere.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:15 PM on February 19, 2014

Gosh, you know, I live in a really hot real estate market. For example, my new next-door neighbor confided to me that he put in no less than 26 offers before he finally got the house next to us (at a significantly-higher-than-asking-price - and his was one of 11 offers made on the day of the open house). So, that being my bias, my answer is "no, not a dealbreaker, BUT, find out more".

If I lived in a place where the market was less dynamic, it would probably give me more pause. But if it was my dream house, in a great location/school district, and if his crime DEFINITELY wasn't with a minor child, I would cautiously consider going through with the purchase.

So you see, everyone has their own criteria. Only you and your girlfriend know for sure.

If you are iffy on the house anyway, well, maybe you would consider passing.

If you strongly want the house and are super bummed at the idea that you might not get it, talk through if there are any measures you can take to make it more palatable. Would you install extra deadbolts, a security system, a video-recording system? Get a big dog? Make sure your girlfriend could always park in the garage and therefore the neighbor would be less likely to see her come and go? Somehow stagger your schedules to minimize the time that she is alone, or to make your schedules less predictable?

Bear in mind too that people move. Is the registered offender the legal owner of the property (check with your local assessor)? Has he owned it for a long time (maybe he will sell it...). Maybe consider talking to some of the neighbors to see if they have had a problem with him (not saying out him as a sex offender to the neighbors of course, but you could talk about it in a general way).

And I second the advice above to talk to the local cops. Maybe try to look up crime stats on that street with the cops or the paper; the local paper usually tracks all call-outs and reported crimes.

Either way, as long as you are making an informed decision you won't have any regrets, regardless of what you decide.
posted by vignettist at 12:19 PM on February 19, 2014

Mod note: Folks, this is askme. Keep it constructive or do something else.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:32 PM on February 19, 2014

If you're still in Denver, you can check your current address here. Perhaps this might help put things into perspective. (Note when reading the map: the purple diamond symbol represents multiple - often hundreds - of offenders.)
posted by she's not there at 12:34 PM on February 19, 2014

If it were me, I'd want more details first. People get put on the sex offender registry for a lot of things; sometimes fairly, sometimes not, sometimes for serious sex crimes, and sometimes for lesser offenses.

That said, I don't know if you'd even be able to find out.
posted by tckma at 12:50 PM on February 19, 2014

Not a dealbreaker for me, but as stated in the first comment, there is no objective answer to this question. The opinions that matter are your and your partner's, and possibly the opinions of people you love or who might often come visit.

It's not a dealbreaker for me because I'm an attorney, who worked in criminal law for many years, and while there are some scary statistics about certain types of people who commit acts which are codified as "sex offenses", statutes classify a lot of things as "sex offenses" which are not terribly scary to people who do not have a relationship with the offender, as odious as the acts might be (or not). Also, registries capture a broad range of people and there is less clear evidence of future dangerousness for a lot of folks who are required to register. This is covered in a lot of opinions above and in a lot of academic literature about the value of sex offender registries.

Neighbors come in all flavors of bad. Some types of people on a sex offender registry would be better neighbors for me than some non-registry flavors of "bad people".
posted by crush-onastick at 12:56 PM on February 19, 2014

I work with forensic clients, some of whom have committed extremely serious offenses. My family and friends have expressed concern to me about this, and what I tell them is the following: these folks are typically well-monitored, often well-resourced (at least in Canada), and have motivation to stay out of jail - for those reasons, I am probably more at risk out in the general community than I am with my forensic clients. That being said, this feeling is about my own safety - I do think that if I had kids, I would run a little more anxious about the issue and would be careful about exposing my kids to convicted offenders.
posted by analog at 12:58 PM on February 19, 2014

In addition to doing the investigation others have suggested, I would also look into overall crime statistics in your potential neighborhood compared to some of the other places you've looked, and let that inform your decision. Otherwise, it's really up to you and your partner to decide whether or not this is a dealbreaker, but in doing so, recognize that she is a responsible, grown-ass adult and respect her thoughts and decisions about her own safety - don't pass on the house out of some misplaced sense that she needs you to "protect" her by making this decision on her behalf. It's fine if the two of you decide you'd rather pass, but as others have noted, you really aren't guaranteed safety anywhere (two people were killed in their house about a quarter of a mile from where I live just last week, in what right now seems to have been a pretty random occurrence) ... since this seems to be prompting you to worry more about home safety than perhaps you guys otherwise might have been, maybe use it as an opportunity for the two of you to figure out what safety precautions you'd like to have in whatever home you ultimately buy.

Good luck, whatever you decide to do!
posted by DingoMutt at 1:22 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all - if it matters, the conviction was in Kansas. Looks like the original charges also included kidnapping and attempted rape so I'm guessing it's not just an 18-year-old guy making sweet love to his 17-year-old girlfriend. I think we'll looking at getting out of the deal. BTW my girlfriend is very concerned about it as well, sorry I didn't make that clear in the OP.
posted by Clustercuss at 1:37 PM on February 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yes, sex offender registries are problematic. Yes, there are criminals and sex offenders all around us and we have no idea. Yes, people can be rehabilitated--I really do believe this.

But here's the thing. Everything else aside, you are now in possession of this information about your neighbour, and you cannot un-know it. There is no changing that. And not only that, you also know what the specific charges were--and they are not the actions of someone I'd feel comfortable around. And it sounds like you and your girlfriend are not comfortable with this either.

I guess what I'm saying is, this knowledge you are now in possession of will colour your/your girlfriend's perception of him, no matter what. And who needs that extra stress when you move into a new home?
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:03 PM on February 19, 2014

I agree with nacho fries - I don't know if I would investigate this further. Someone I was very close to growing up is now sitting in prison as a sex offender, and I looked into it. I can't unlearn this, and I live 1200 miles away.
posted by getawaysticks at 4:19 PM on February 19, 2014

After your follow-up: check if they are required to disclose that. If they didn't that can be a reason to back out. I'm assuming there was no mention of this in the contract you signed? Ours said something like I was advised to check it out and that could be a reason for breaking it within 48 hours. It was stock language. If they did disclose it (or remind you of your need to check it) and you missed that, or if they're not required to, you might be SOL. Hopefully you have one of your other opportunities left to back out, such as the inspection, lack of acceptable funding, etc.

Before I even heard you update, the aggravated part of the charge was very troubling to me. Kidnap and rape? Yeah, I'd be backing out, however I could.
posted by ravioli at 4:20 PM on February 19, 2014

This would be worth losing your earnest money over, in my opinion. Unfortunately depending on how many days you get of due diligence, this might be what happens.

But peace of mind is worth something, too.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:29 PM on February 19, 2014

Oh, and Ralph just brought something up-make sure he is actually LIVING there. It seems that lately what happens is these people have an official address but lie and are living somewhere else surreptitiously....

You have a lot to think about.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:33 PM on February 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks all - if it matters, the conviction was in Kansas.

Then you can safely ignore the comment that quoted a Tennessee law.

You've clearly made a decision, but I'd just like to add, since you're so concerned about crime occurring near where you live: look up an online "crime map" for your city and see how many crimes (and what type of crimes) have recently occurred in the area you're considering. That could be more important than one conviction from 10 years ago.
posted by John Cohen at 5:07 PM on February 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

My own state makes it much easier to figure out on the registry what is statutory. You may be able to guess by comparing the birthdate of the individual to the date of the conviction (was he under 21 at the time?).

I'd feel OK about it safety wise (I've also been a city dweller for a long time), but my biggest worry would be this: you will never, ever, ever sell this house to a family with young children (or a couple about to settle in to start a family) without trying for a long time. Overgrown lawns and perceptions of blight affect de facto property value for resale, and this will too.
posted by blue suede stockings at 6:22 PM on February 19, 2014

Kidnapping and rape? Yikes. I personally, as a woman, would not want to be neighbors with that guy.

I do think it's a fair point that we probably interact with bad people all the time and don't know. And also, someone who doesn't have a criminal record is capable of bad things. And also, a sex offender could move in a few houses down at any time and you'd probably never know. But you can only react to what you do know and it would be very difficult for me to put this knowledge out of my mind.

You both aren't cool with it. Glad you're going to keep looking for a place.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:40 PM on February 19, 2014

I'm surprised not one person has mentioned anything about recidivism here. If you want to feel better about it, perhaps statistics will comfort you. Type "Sex offender recidivism rates" into google and start skimming through all the various studies and reports you find. Here's one, for example, by the bureau of justice statistics of the U.S. gov. based on data gathered from 15 different states in 1994. Ok the data may be a bit old but when you look at the other sources, the numbers don't change much. quoting:

"Compared to non-sex offenders
released from State prisons, released
sex offenders were 4 times more likely
to be rearrested for a sex crime.
Within the first 3 years following their
release from prison in 1994, 5.3% (517
of the 9,691) of released sex offenders
were rearrested for a sex crime. The
rate for the 262,420 released non-sex
offenders was lower, 1.3% (3,328 of

So, how likely is it that the sex offender next door to, statistically speaking, will recommit the crime? Well, theres a 95% chance he is one of the ones that won't. Then you would need an actuary to tell you how much less likely it is that if he is one of those re-offenders, that his victim would be you.

I'd chill out about it, personally
posted by postergeist at 5:47 AM on February 20, 2014

Those rates are only for the first three years, and only those reoffenders who are caught in those three years.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:44 AM on February 20, 2014

Mod note: Folks, please stick to the question and don't turn this into general sex offender chat. OP is not anon.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:06 AM on February 20, 2014

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