The mother called, voice shaking. She had been watching the events in Issaquah like storm clouds headed her way. Someday soon, her community...
The mother called, voice shaking. She had been watching the events in Issaquah like storm clouds headed her way.
Someday soon, her community could follow the Issaquah City Council’s lead and rule that Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders have to live in a certain part of town, or move.
That would be the beginning of the end for her son.
He was 15 last spring when he “touched” a 5-year-old neighbor girl.
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“Touched.” It’s how a mother would put it — prettily, like placing a pillow on a hard bench.
The King County Juvenile Court put it this way: child rape in the first degree, a Class A felony. “The worst one there is,” the mother said with a sigh.
Her son will be classified and sentenced Sept. 2. For now, he’s at home. Never alone. Seeing a therapist every week. The father opened a home office.
The neighbors are doing what they can, too — and not just for their own children, but for the boy some of them have known since he was born. They chaperone visits with other kids in the neighborhood. Baby-sit.
Before all this happened, the parents bought theater tickets. After their son’s conviction, they decided to stay home.
No, one neighbor said. Go out. We’ll watch your son.
“I don’t think the neighborhood sees him as a predator, but as a kid who needs help,” another neighbor told me. “We hope the best for him. None of us wish he would move.”
But if their Eastside community follows Issaquah, the family will have no choice. They will have to pull their son from his school, his teams, his routine — all he knows — and try to help him start fresh as a registered sex offender in another place that will see him as only that.
“We say it takes a village to raise a child,” the mother said the other day. “But this law is removing the child from the village.”
They have worked hard to preserve theirs. “When we had problems, we didn’t hide it,” the mother said. “We always told our neighbors. We wanted them around us. We needed support and we wanted them to realize that we had concerns, too.”
Now they are concerned that more communities will adopt similar sex-offender ordinances, which they see as inconsistent and backward.
For starters, Issaquah’s distance limitations (Level 2 and 3 sex offenders must stay 800 to 1,000 feet from a school) don’t take into account that some offenders attend school.
And the state’s focus for juvenile offenders is supposed to be rehabilitation. The earlier that happens, the better, right?
“So any effort that says a juvenile with a sex offense can’t live with his family, or forces that family to move,” the father said, “is counterproductive to what the state pushes.”
I won’t forgive what this kid has done, but I admire what his parents and neighbors are doing. Theirs is a single porch light left on for someone most people would lock their doors against. It’s something to consider before such ordinances spread.
We all want to keep our kids safe. But we need to save some kids, too.
Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334.
Save her a seat beside Cindy.