Parent speaks out as sex offender gets closer to moving in next - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Parent speaks out as sex offender gets closer to moving in next door

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BELOIT (WKOW) -- It's a top priority for all parents: their children's safety. But several parents, grandparents and neighbors are worried that the children who live on one Beloit street are being threatened as the state leans towards moving a sex offender into the neighborhood. 

"I've got kids I'm always concerned about. I work nights, what am I supposed to do? I'm a single parent," said Kay Shepherd, a mother and grandmother who lives on the 2200 block of Euclid Avenue in Beloit. 

"I'm afraid for my kids, I'm afraid something's going to happen to them. We have kids that live behind us, it's crazy," Shepherd added. 

Her concern is centered around Kenneth Cairns, 57, who police call a sexually violent person. The state's Department of Human Services is leaning towards moving Cairns right next door to Shepherd. It means he would share a driveway with and be just feet away from Shepherd's 15 year old daughter and 9 year old grandson. 

That's a problem for the grandmother because of Cairns's past. Cairns sexually assaulted several boys between the ages of nine and 13 in the 1970s, 80s and 90s in Douglas County, according to Beloit Police Chief David Zibolski. 

The possible movement of Cairns prompted Zibolski to hold a public information meeting with the public where anyone could ask any questions they had. 

Many were already fired up since this is the second within the past four months that the state has moved a sex offender into their city, into the same neighborhood and into the same house. 

Steven Schuelke, 41, is also a registered sex offender who already lives in the house next to Shepherd and her little ones. He was convicted of sexually assaulting young girls in La Crosse County. 

Several residents asked how registered sex offenders could live so close to children. Zibolski noted, that's because of a statewide loophole in the law. 

Zibolski said bot Schuelke and Cairns pleaded to lesser charges in their cases and therefore are not labeled "serious child sex offender(s)." Although they meet Beloit's requirement of living at least 1,500 feet away from any school or parks, it doesn't mean they can't live next to children, according to Zibolski. 

State law also gives the power of deciding where a sex offender will reintegrate in the hands of a judge and DHS. Zibolski said the counties and communities don't get a say in the matter and that has the police department and community angry. 

"We have two people of like-minded ilk who have a long history of preying, grooming and being predators against children in close proximity to children. It defies logic," Zibolski said. 

"How is that protecting the safety of our kids? These people don't care," added Shepherd. 

There is ongoing legislation that would mandate sex offenders to reintegrate into the same county where their crime was committed. Senate Bill 446 is due to be brought up in the state Senate soon. It's companion bill has already passed with bipartisan support. 

Zibolski is now urging his community to call their local representatives and express their concerns about the issue. 

Meanwhile, the Beloit Police Department has a petition against Cairns moving to the city. They plan to give that to DHS, but aren't optimistic it will change the outcome. 

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