KCBD INVESTIGATES: More than a dozen sex offenders in Lamesa ordered to move
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - More than a dozen registered sex offenders are living too close to children, that’s according to the Lamesa Police Department.
The chief of police confirmed that 19 residents received notices stating they were in violation of the city’s code of ordinances.
Eugene Gaspar is a registered sex offender who said the department gave him 90 days to move, or face a fine of up to $500 a day.
Gaspar said the notice came as a surprise because officers at the Lamesa Police Department approved his address when his family purchased their home more than two years ago.
“And I told them, ‘Can you check the map and make sure that I am in compliance?’ Because I am not going to spend $150,000 to $200,000 on a home when I can’t live there. They came back and told me, ‘Yes,’ that I was in compliance, and everything is good,” Gaspar said. “I bought the home and remodeled it. When I was fixing to move in, then I went again.”
Gaspar said after checking for a second time, he was once again given the approval by Lamesa police officers to move into the home his family purchased.
Gaspar said he has registered at the Lamesa Police Department every 90 days for the past two years, with no problem, until now.
“There is a new guy there who registered me. He said, ‘Oh, I’ve got to give you this notice.’ The notice said the Lamesa Police Department had an audit done and we were out of compliance, and we had 90 days to resolve,” Gaspar said.
Mary Sue Molnar is the founder and executive director of Texas Voices for Reason and Justice, a volunteer organization that provides support for sex offenders and their families.
Molnar said she was contacted by multiple registered sex offenders in Lamesa who had identical stories to Gaspar’s.
“There is no statewide residency restriction law, but the law allows individual cities and towns to impose ordinances,” Molnar said.
In 2009, the City of Lamesa adopted an ordinance that states sex offenders cannot live within 1,000 feet of any premises where children commonly gather, including, but not limited to, a school, daycare facility, playground, park, ballpark, public or private youth center, public or private swimming pool, video arcade facility, or church.
“When a person goes to register at his local law enforcement agency or wherever he is required to register, if you are living in a child safe zone where a city already has an ordinance, they won’t approve your registration,” Molnar said. “They led these men to believe that they were fine living in that particular location, and they come back years later and say, ‘never mind, never mind.’ What they should have done is grandfathered them in.”
Gaspar said he was incarcerated from 1997 to 2010, and his life changed drastically during his third year behind bars.
“There’s a lot of volunteers from Lamesa that just came in and showed us God’s love. It’s because of them that I am here today, only because of them,” Gaspar said.
Gaspar said he is now a TDCJ volunteer chaplain and spends his free time preaching to inmates in the same unit where he served his sentence.
“Only God can change your heart like that,” Gaspar said.
Gaspar said he never wanted to be in a courtroom again, but when he received the notice, he filed a lawsuit against the City of Lamesa and the police chief.
“I am not fighting the ordinance. I think the ordinance is great if that is what the city wants to do. I am arguing that you told me I could live there and now you are telling me I can’t. After I spent all of that money investing that,” Gaspar said.
Gaspar said his deadline to move is October 12, 2022.
Lamesa city leaders, elected officials, and the police chief declined to comment due to pending litigation.
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