In Columbia County, nearly all the 46 registered sex offenders will have to move. Many of them are leaving the county. And it's a problem across the state. Under the new law, an offender has to live more than feet away from, among other things, bus stops where kids might be.
We spoke with one sex offender who lives just a few feet from a stop sign in Columbia County that serves as a bus stop. Almost every one of the registered sex offenders in 46 Columbia County will be moving in the next ten days. They must be in compliance by July 1, or they will be arrested. That's because they all live within feet of a church, school, daycare, or a bus stop. With so many bus stops, Columbia County's registered sex offenders are asking: He was convicted of attempted rape 10 years ago.
He's lived in his house with his wife for three years, but now because of the bus stop just feet away, he has to go.
The subdivision entrance is close A lawsuit filed June 20 on behalf of Georgia's sex offenders is challenging the law. But the man we spoke to won't wait; he's packing up to move. But now because of this registry, this affects me too. Within 1, feet of the sex offender we talked to there are actually three of them.
The sheriff's office says about six registered offenders have said they will definitely leave the state because of this law. Richmond County sheriffs estimate about 75 percent of the registered sex offenders on their list will have to move somewhere else. With offenders registered in the county, that means about are looking for a new home. The lawsuit challenging the measure features two offenders from our area as plaintiffs. They're in similar situations. Wendy Whitaker lives in McDuffie County.
When she was a teenager, she took part in a consensual act with a 15 year old on school property. Joseph Linaweaver performed a consensual act with a 14 year old on a school bus. Both received only five years probation, but had to register. Now, both are being forced from their homes. Linaweaver tells lawyers he'll move to Wisconsin to avoid the restrictions. But moving is also a problem, because most offenders have to have probation permission, which can take six months to a year to get.