Judge: State can still house sex offenders in Lakewood family homes
TACOMA, Wash. – A Pierce County judge ruled Friday that the state can still house sex offenders in 90 adult family homes in Lakewood.
“I have reviewed the ordinances," said Judge Elizabeth Martin. "I have reviewed the briefing and I will grant the state’s motion."
“The judge’s ruling while disappointing, is not as nearly as a concern as DSHS’ practice and the fact that Governor Inslee could correct this with one phone call – he’s the one that’s going to have blood on his hands,” said Lakewood mayor Don Anderson.
In May, the City of Lakewood filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington over the unsafe release of those with a criminal history or sexual offenses into the city.
The Department of Social and Health Services oversees 90 adult family homes in Lakewood, according to its website.
In her ruling, Judge Martin said the City’s claims lacked standing and proof of legitimate injury and asserted this issue is better suited for legislators rather than the courts.
Lakewood has more than 80 adult homes in operation - many of them in the Oakbrook neighborhood - though only a portion of them house people convicted of sex crimes.
Still, Nolan and Jessica Soete are fearful of what their area might become.
“It's very concerning, especially in a residential neighborhood like this where there's kids all over the place,” said Nolan Soete. “We have two young kids. Our neighbors have two young kids.”
State officials said there have been no reports of new sex crimes by offenders released into these adult family homes, but that's no comfort to this couple.
“For me it's just a matter of time," Jessica Soete said.
Mayor Anderson told KOMO News the City could appeal portions of the ruling and will now work with legislators to address DSHS’s authority in housing sex offenders.