Ministry to sex offenders running again  

Published 3:27 pm Monday, May 1, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior staff writer

A location, which prompted a 2014 law for Chilton County limiting how many registered sex offenders can live at the same location, is operating again, now that the law has been repealed.

C.J Robinson, district attorney chief deputy for the circuit, said the law was repealed in 2016 when it became evident that the court would likely rule the law unconstitutional. The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in federal court on behalf of Ricky Martin.

Derrick Bone of the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office said three sex offenders are living at 40 County Road 374. One of these, Kenneth Collins, has been living there since 2011. Since all of the others moved out when the local restriction was put in place, he could legally stay at the location even when the law was in place.

None of these three were charged in Chilton County. Jeffrey Eagle was charged in Jefferson County, Randall Kimble in Madison County and Collins in Baldwin county.

This location is the site of Triumph Church led by Martin. Martin referred The Clanton Advertiser to the ACLU for any comments.

“Pastor Martin was ministering to and housing the sex offenders as a part of his religious calling,” Randall Marshall, legal director ACLU of Alabama, said.

Marshall said Martin is re-establishing his ministry to ex-felons and sex offenders at the property.

“There is no law prohibiting him from doing what he is doing,” Marshall said.

According to documentation from the court case, “Martin v. Houston”, Martin “required all registered offenders to sign a residency agreement, which, among other things, barred tobacco, vain or cursing language, fighting, weapons and X-rated movies or magazines. The agreement also required offenders to attend church services and to live for Christ. He further required that the men be properly dressed when outdoors, keep the property clean and neat and avoid trespassing onto neighboring property. He would deny any applicant who was not willing to practice the teachings of Christ, or at least be open to conversion to Christianity, and would evict anyone who would not obey the rules.”

Bone said the sheriff’s office routinely verifies the address of sex offenders to ensure children are not living at the address.

“These numbers will definitely grow,” Bone said.

Debra Morrison, who lives next to the property where the sex offenders live in trailers, said the situation has her worried for her grandchildren’s safety when they come to visit. She feels her property value has also been impacted.

“It has just hurt the reputation of the neighborhood,” Morrison said.

Robinson said there have been calls that the sex offenders have stood on the property line watching children play outside.

State licensing or regulations do not exist for any type of sex offender treatment facility.

Sex offenders cannot live “within a certain number of feet from a daycare,” according to Robinson.

In 2010, Robinson noticed the same address reoccurring “over and over” as he filed paperwork about registered sex offenders being released from custody.

“It was really alarming that of all the sex offenders that were coming here like two out of 50 that were coming to this address in a year and a half committed their crime in Chilton County,” Robinson said.

This led him to work with local officials and state leaders on the restriction on how many sex offenders could live at one location.

Marshall said this was a violation of Martin’s first amendment rights and the religious land use and institutionalized person act.