TOPEKA The Kansas Supreme Court today ruled in favor of preventing sex predator Leroy Hendricks from living in a home in Leavenworth County
In its unanimous decision, the court also said the Legislature must address the issue of where sex predators can live once they have left the state's civil confinement treatment program.
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The case centered on the placement of Hendricks, the first offender in the special sex predator treatment program to have reached a point where officials say he should be released into a monitored residence.
But attempts last year to settle Hendricks in Lawrence and then rural Leavenworth County were rebuffed. Hendricks currently is living at Osawatomie State Hospital.
Hendricks, who has a long history of sex offenses involving children, is 71 years-old and has several physical impairments resulting from a stroke and diabetes.
Richard Whitson, director of Community Provisional Living, sought to place Hendricks in a home in rural southwest Leavenworth County.
Whitson has a provisional license from the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to operate a group home for up to three sex offenders, according to court records.
But a resolution by Leavenworth County commissioners said Whitson's license violated the county's zoning regulations. Group homes for people with mental illnesses and disabilities are allowed, but only if the person is not a danger to others, the commissioners argued.
Hendricks, the commissioners claimed, remained a danger.
Writing for the court, Justice Carol Beier agreed, saying "there was uncontroverted evidence that he was likely to reoffend if at large."
Beier said the court realized that the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services faced a tough problem; finding a Kansas community willing to permit the location of transitional housing for sexually violent offenders.
"We trust that SRS will call the dilemma to the attention to the only branch of state government empowered to address it: the Legislature," she wrote.
Justices Eric Rosen and Donald Allegrucci agreed with the majority decision, but said it was because Whitson had failed to get a special use permit for the group home to house Hendricks.
Given Hendricks' age and physical ailments, the two justices said it was unlikely Hendricks could have re-offended if housed at the home, which would have had numerous monitoring safeguards.