Vera Court residents outraged to learn sex offender will move in this week
A sex offender’s community placement is sparking outrage for some north side residents, who say a loophole in a law will allow a man convicted of multiple sexual assaults involving minors to live within feet of dozens of children.
Vera Court residents say the sex offender, Jason Fenske, who the state warns could offend again, should not be living so close to their backyards.
One of the most tense moments of the community notification meeting Monday night was when residents learned, for the first time, that Fenske will be moving in this week.
Despite angry pleas from more than 75 Vera Court residents, Department of Corrections employees explained that under state law, they were only required to inform local law enforcement and not residents.
Corrections employees also said that despite a petition, the meeting was not to discuss if Fenske would move in, but rather the conditions he will face when he does move in.
Residents cited what they feel is a loophole in Madison’s child safety zone law, which does not restrict how far offenders have to live from children. DOC employees said changing the law, like Iowa has, has had bad consequences.
“Sex offenders thrive on anonymity. That’s why we don’t want to put into effect that residence restriction because we know it doesn’t work. What works are these child safety zones,” said Tina Gensler, with the Department of Corrections.
DOC officials said all of Fenske’s victims were minor females he knew. He was released 16 months ago, and is currently under 24-hour GPS supervision.
Residents also learned Monday night that Fenske’s landlord intends to rent three other rooms as what was deemed a “sober house,” for offenders who have had difficulty finding a place to live.
DOC officials denied accusations that sex offenders are being dumped in their neighborhoods because of its income level.