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Vote on proposed housing for violent sex offender delayed as more options are considered

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 5:02 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A decision on where to house a violent sex offender, court ordered to live somewhere in Brown County, is now on hold, at least for a few weeks.

As we reported in a First Alert Investigation Tuesday, a Brown County committee was looking to place the offender in one of three homes in the Green Bay area, but the decision on where to place him him is now being delayed as more homes are considered.

For 44 years, Randy Fenske has lived close to the 800 block of Henry Street in Green Bay, the location of one of three homes the Supervised Release Committee was looking at to house the violent sex offender ordered by a judge to be released from a secure treatment facility next month.

After seeing our original stories on this housing debate, Fenske showed up at the committee’s meeting Wednesday to voice opposition before members made a final decision.

“I think it’s important that you guys consider that there’s a school bus drop off point right by that house on the corner,” he told the members.

The committee’s job is to find housing options, then give its recommendation to the Department of Health Services to work out a lease and supervision rules.

The 2018 law that prompted the creation of the committee mandates the offender live in the county where their original crimes were committed.

As part of its research for this particular case, the committee had Green Bay Police canvas each area to ensure the home met the criteria to house an offender.

State law says it can’t be within 1,500 feet of a school, daycare, park, place of worship or youth center.

The law says no children can live ‘directly adjacent’ to the property either, but it doesn’t necessarily eliminate a home if there are children in the neighborhood, like we found near Henry Street.

“I’ll be honest with you, my grandkids like to come up and visit us during the summer, but I don’t know if I’d be able to continue that if this offender moves in within 50 feet of my house,” said Fenske.

Violent sex offenders being released from secure treatment are essentially forbidden from leaving the home unsupervised and must adhere to strict rules or risk being revoked.

That’s what happened on Liberty Street in Green Bay in March.

Bruce N. Brown was arrested only a few days after moving into a home and eventually sent back to secure treatment for rules violations.

Brown’s case puts concern in neighbors’ minds this time around.

“I just would appreciate some consideration when you make your decision on where this person is going to be housed,” Fenske told them.

After 30 minutes in closed session, the committee voted to postpone a decision until September third.

Brown County Assistant Lead Corporation Counsel Samantha Wagner says the county has until September 18th to make a housing recommendation to DHS without facing penalties.

She says the committee wants to look further at the current homes on its list and explore more housing options before deciding where this offender may live.

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