Outrage mixed with insight
Castration. Banishment. Haven't we had this conversation? I heard from a lot of people after Tuesday's column about the 13 sex offenders...
Seattle Times staff columnist
Castration. Banishment. Haven't we had this conversation?
I heard from a lot of people after Tuesday's column about the 13 sex offenders being moved out of their University District house — and the University of Washington's push for their removal, even though there hasn't been a single incident in seven years. I also had an enlightening chat with Zerious Malcome, one of the offenders who just learned that he would have to find a new place to live.
"I feel like I am being punished for doing the right thing," Malcome, 52, told me. "I have done everything; went through all kinds of treatment programs. I am in a place where everybody knows who I am, and I am the least threat to society that I could be."
UW officials aren't buying it. They're worried that Malcome and his fellow parolees may reoffend — even though they haven't, thanks in part to the watchful eye and house rules of landlady Carol Clarke.
And there's this: The UW would also like to buy Clarke's properties someday.
So UW President Mark Emmert reached out to Gov. Christine Gregoire. Then the Department of Corrections ordered Malcome and 12 others out.
"I'm in panic mode," Malcome said. "They told me I had to be out, somewhere, in two days. I can go to a shelter or go on the street."
Not exactly. Anna Aylward, a programs administrator with the DOC, assured me that Malcome can stay until he finds another place.
"Nobody is getting kicked out," she said. "It was agreed with the university that no one wanted homelessness. But they did want some action."
Action will be hard for Malcome, who will have to find someone willing to rent to a man who served 15 years for statutory rape of a child.
"I molested my foster daughter," he told me.
I would love nothing more than to force-feed Malcome and his friends saltpeter morning, noon and night; or drop a machete into each of their laps. By accident. Many times.
But that's not a possibility. So I have to put my loathing aside and consider other options. We all do.
People suggested state-run, staffed halfway houses. Voluntary castration. And I heard from several keyboard geniuses who suggested I find the 13 a place in my neighborhood.
I fought my knee-jerk "Hell, no!" and wondered: If neighborhoods banded together, learned who these people were, and maybe found the will to wish them luck... .
It worked for Carol Clarke.
Of course, none of this excuses the UW from its brazen land grab. Run out the sex offenders without a thought to where to put them, and say you're making the community safer? For your students, maybe, and that's fine. But what about the rest of us?
Malcome is counting the days before he and his fellow residents are scattered — far from the support they've built for each other.
"We keep each other accountable," he said.
I don't forgive them a thing. But if we lose sight of them, there's nothing stopping them from offending again.
Nicole Brodeur's column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
She'll keep track of them all.
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