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ARK volunteer taken off sex-offender list

1-10-2013 Florida:

___ — who came to the public’s attention because of his wife’s role at the Animal Rescue Konsortium (ARK) in DeLand — has been removed from the Florida Sexual Offender/Predator Public Registry.

Critics of the ARK shelter, which was raided by the DeLand Police Department Nov. 8, complained that one of the shelter volunteers was a registered sex offender.

Just two weeks before the raid, on Oct. 26, ___ had been arrested by DeLand police and charged with failure to register properly as a sex offender. He had listed himself on police records as a transient, but had stayed at least occasionally at ARK.

He and his wife were homeless, and ARK president Maggi Hall had given them permission to live at the ARK shelter in exchange for caring for the 126 animals on the property.

After the raid, the his situation was dire, as they had few possessions and no home, and had difficulty finding work. His status as a registered sex offender made hard times even harder.

However, then he learned the dates of his conviction on sex charges predated the enactment of the Florida registry.

He was convicted of sexual assault in Michigan in 1996 when he was 22 years old. He said the charges had been brought by a former girlfriend.

Florida’s Public Safety Information Act, which requires sex offenders to be registered and their addresses published on a state website, did not go into effect until 1997.

He consulted with an attorney, who helped him have his name removed from the sex-offender registry. He’s happy to lose the label.

“I can live anywhere I want to,” he said.

Most jurisdictions restrict where registered sex offenders can live. The ARK shelter is among locations in DeLand that are off-limits as a sex offender’s residence.

He now has a good job, and he and his wife have a car and a new place to live in Orange City.

“Things are going good for us,” he said. “I’m happy.”

Depending on exactly where they live, the troubles with his past conviction may not be over.

In 2012, Orange City adopted a residency-restriction ordinance that applies to all sex offenders, whether or not they are listed on the state registry, and whether they were convicted in Florida or another state. ..Source.. by Jen Horton

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