Father of 5 says life on sex offender registry has forced him and his family into homelessness
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many people may be unconcerned with what someone on the registry goes through, but William Walker said he hopes by sharing details of his arrest and the collateral damage it’s causing his kids, someone will rent him a place to live.
The children range in age from five to 10. The four boys, a girl, Mom and Dad were evicted in October. They’ve exhausted a three week hotel stay from the Department of Social Services and are now emotional and homeless. William Walker is pleading for an apartment or house to rent and says, “I hurt. I mean, it bothers me every day. My kids would never be in the street if it wasn’t for this charge.”
William was labeled a violent sex offender back in 1999 in Maryland. He says the sex was consensual. He and his girlfriend lived together for a year and even worked at the same job.
"I was 29 and she was, come to find out, she was only 15 or something like that. She told me she was 19,” Walker said.
This happened long before he and Chanelle married and had kids.
“I didn’t do a day in jail in Maryland for this charge. Not one day, did I do in jail for this charge in Maryland. I went to court. I got one year, unsupervised probation,” Walker said.
Walker was not required to register as a sex offender in Maryland. They’ve lived in Virginia since 2009 without problems, but then William was pulled over for speeding. State police informed him that his name would go into the registry, and life got tough.
Since their eviction, his wife Chanelle says landlords treat them like pariahs.
"Me and my husband, we’re not slouches. We’re none of that. We’re working parents. I’m not asking for people to have sympathy. We’re just asking for a little help so that my children will be able to wake up Christmas morning, go to the Christmas tree and open up presents. That’s all I’m asking,” Chanelle Walker said.
Martin Wegbreit, the Director of Litigation at Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, says some of these landlords may be breaking the fair housing law by refusing to rent to them.
“If the conviction was more than six years ago, then it’s likely not relevant. You have to look at how long ago this happened. You have to look at how old was the person who did it. Was he 18, 28, 38, 48. You have to look at whether the person has done rehabilitative efforts. In other words, there has to be an individualized assessment. If the housing provider does not do that, they’re violating fair housing law," Wegbreit said.
For now, the family sleeps in their SUV when they can’t find relief at a friend or relative’s home. They slept in the car just last night.
"We’ve got a few blankets in there. I keep the car running with heat on. We lean the seat back. The two big boys in the back. The three little ones in the middle section, and we go to sleep,” Walker said.
If you would like to help this family and know a landlord looking to rent, email NBC12′s Diane Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Fair housing protection for sex offenders only applies to private housing. The entire interview explaining fair housing protections for sex offenders can be watched below.
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