[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Special Report: Unprotected Prey

Updated: Friday, November 22, 2013 |
Special Report: Unprotected Prey story image
PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Does your child's bus stop put them in the path of a predator?

Right now, there are state laws regulating how close sex offenders can live near schools, but there are no laws regulating how close they can be to school bus stops.

Newschannel 3 did some digging to see how many offenders were living in reach of our local children and how school districts are keeping them safe.

We decided to focus just on the City of Portage, mapping where all the registered sex offenders live, and comparing it to school bus routes.

While there are offenders living close to bus stops all over the city, there was one area that jumped  out at us.

A motel that has nearly a dozen sex offenders living there, just steps away from two school bus stops.

Along Helen Avenue in Portage, there's family homes, kids toys, parents seeing their kids off to school.

But Amanda Penn says there's a big reason she makes sure her son gets on the school bus safely every day.

In this neighborhood, bound by Portage Road, Lovers Lane, and I-94, there are 13 people listed as sex offenders on the state police registry.

Ten of them call the Airport Inn home.

According to the registry website, 7 of them were convicted of having sexual contact with a child under 13 years old.

The others: attempted CSC of a child, indecent exposure, and third degree CSC.

Directly in front of the motel is a bus stop for middle and high school students, and right around the corner—only about 50 yards away—the elementary school kids get picked up.

That's a fact scares some parents.

"Every morning, every time he gets off the bus to come home. He's right here. I'm always afraid of something happening," Penn said.

Other neighbors are all too aware of the sex offenders at the  motel.


"We're aware, children don't play outside unsupervised," said parent Christine Vlietstra.

Many of them wonder why so many sex offenders call this place home?
 
Officer Paul Sherfield registers sex offenders for Portage Police. He says the state is placing them there.

"As they get out of jail and have to move into someplace and you got to get them to start there and the parole officers keep real close tabs on them," Sherfield said.

Officer Sherfield says the Department of Corrections has a deal worked out with the motel.

And the offenders stay there for a couple months, but some have stayed for years.

"I've had as many as 20 some in there," Sherfield said. "Depends on how many they're releasing and how many they get out."

We took our findings to Ron Herron, the Portage Public Schools Assistant Superintendent of Operations. He says the district knows about the motel and other clusters where sex offenders are living.

"We get alerts when sex offenders move into the district, by zip code and we were able to plot those within our transportation routing system," Herron said. "We plot those and then we determine where we have our routing stops at to keep kids safe."

Herron says there's only a bus stop at the front of the motel when there are students living there.

No other kids are expected to use that stop.

For other bus stops near sex offenders, they rely on bus drivers and parents keeping a close watch.

"The safest way to keep a kid safe is to have parent supervision at all times," Herron said. "We know that's not possible at all times with certain parents, if they work together…they can make sure their students are safe."

"We can't tell people where to live, or where to move," Herron added. "And sex offenders move in and out and that's one of the reasons we continue to monitor that situation."

Officer Sherfield says police and parole officers keep an eye on the offenders. Many of them have an electronic tether, and are not allowed to leave their room at certain times.

"They're under scrutiny. And if something were to happen, they're right in front of that location," he said. "Everyone immediately is going to be looking at them."

But most parents say, it's unfortunate this has to be in their backyard.

"I have no choice," Penn said. "I live around here."

Florida and Georgia are the only states that have laws preventing sex offenders from living close to bus stops.

Portage schools says it doesn't notify parents about sex offenders, but if there's an issue they encourage parents to contact them.
comments powered by Disqus
advertisement

What do you want to see?

If you have a story idea for the I-Team, you can contact us using the form below or by calling 269-388-4612.
Please re-enter the code shown in the image below.

Business News

Last Update on October 24, 2014 17:58 GMT

NEW HOME SALES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. sales of new homes were essentially flat in September, after the government sharply revised downward what was initially an August surge in buying.

The Commerce Department says new-home sales edged up 0.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 467,000. The report also revised down the August sales rate to 466,000 from 504,000.

The pace of sales for newly built homes has improved a mere 1.7 percent so far this year compared to 2013. Only the South has experienced gains in buying year-to-date.

Housing has struggled to fully rebound since the recession ended more than five years ago. Many potential buyers lack the savings and strong credit history needed to afford a home, causing them to rent or remain in their existing houses instead of upgrading.

EARNS-FORD

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) -- Ford's net income dropped 34 percent to $835 million in the third quarter, dragged down by the cost of launching its new F-150 pickup.

The company closed its Dearborn truck plant for five weeks during the quarter and cut back on truck sales in order to preserve inventories while it readies the new aluminum-sided truck. That hurt pretax profits in North America, which fell 39 percent to $1.4 billion.

Ford earned 21 cents per share, down from 31 cents in the July-September period a year ago. Without one-time items, including separation costs in Europe, Ford earned 24 cents. That beat Wall Street's expectation of 19 cents, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue fell 2.5 percent to $34.9 billion, better than the forecast of $33.7 billion.

UPS-HOLIDAYS

ATLANTA (AP) -- UPS is expecting an 11 percent jump in December shipments as the holiday shopping season heats up.

UPS recently announced that it would hire up to 95,000 people to handle the tremendous volume. That's up from last year when the Atlanta company initially planned to hire 55,000 seasonal workers. Major U.S. shipping companies were overwhelmed by a shift in American shopping habits, namely the success of Amazon.com. with its free shipping, and UPS was forced to hire an additional 30,000 people.

United Parcel Service Inc. also maintained its guidance Friday for 2014 adjusted earnings between $4.90 and $5 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet predict $4.95 per share.

PROCTER & GAMBLE-DURACELL

Procter & Gamble removes the batteries

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Procter & Gamble is removing the batteries and making Duracell a stand-alone company.

P&G, which acquired Duracell in 2005, announced earlier this year that it would shed more than half its brands around the globe over the next year or two.

If a split off occurs, P&G said that its shareholders would have the option of exchanging some, none or all of their P&G shares for shares of the newly formed Duracell company.

The Procter & Gamble Co., based in Cincinnati, said Friday that it is also considering a spinoff, sale or other options for Duracell.

CHIQUITA-FYFFES

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Chiquita shareholders have rejected plans to merge with Irish fruit importer Fyffes that would have made the world's largest banana supplier.

Chiquita Brands International Inc. said Friday that the shareholders didn't approve a revised transaction agreement between the two companies during a special shareholders meeting.

Chiquita said it now expects to enter talks with investment firm Safra Group and juice company Cutrale Group on their competing offer of $14.50 per share. Chiquita previously rejected buyout bids from the two Brazilian companies.

CHILD SEAT RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- Evenflo is recalling more than 202,000 rear-facing infant seats because the buckles can become difficult to unlatch.

The recall affects Embrace 35/9999 models with an AmSafe QT1 buckle. Documents posted by U.S. safety regulators say that if the buckles don't release easily, it may be difficult to get a child out of the seat in an emergency.

The affected seats were made at various times from December 2011 through May of 2013.

Not all Embrace 35 models are covered by the recall. For others, the company will provide replacement buckles if requested by customers.

The recall comes after an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Owners with questions can call Evenflo at (800) 490-7591.

HALAL FOODS-INVESTIGATION

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- The founder of a popular brand of food for observant Muslims has been indicted on charges that he shipped beef to Malaysia and Indonesia that didn't meet those countries' import requirements.

A federal grand jury returned the indictment Thursday against Bill Aossey Jr., who founded the Midamar Corp. in 1974. The Cedar Rapids company grew into the leading U.S. halal brand, selling more than 200 products in the U.S. and abroad.

A 19-count indictment charges Aossey with directing employees to change labels and fabricate documents to make beef products appear that they originated from a slaughterhouse that met Malaysia and Indonesia's strict requirements. Halal meat is supposed to be killed in ritual slaughter.

Aossey's attorney called the indictment unfair Friday, saying the allegations were "a minor regulatory violation" at most.

NBC INTERNS-SETTLEMENT

NEW YORK (AP) -- NBCUniversal will pay $6.4 million to settle a class action lawsuit brought by unpaid interns who worked on "Saturday Night Live" and other shows who claim they are owed wages, according to court documents.

The interns claim NBCUniversal wrongly classified them as non-employees in an effort to avoid labor laws. NBCUniversal said in court documents that even though it is settling the suit, it denies the allegations and doesn't admit any wrongdoing.

The average amount that class-action members of the suit will receive is $505, although the main plaintiffs will receive more. The number of class members is capped at 8,975.

The interns had been seeking recovery of unpaid wages, attorneys' fees, interest and liquidated damages. The settlement still has to be approved by a judge. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in New York.

NBCUniversal is owned by Philadelphia-based cable provider Comcast Corp.

CYPRUS-ECONOMY

S&P upgrades Cyprus on commitment to bailout deal

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- Rating agency Standard & Poor's has given Cyprus a one-notch upgrade to its credit grade, raising it to B+.

The agency cited the country's commitment to the terms of its bailout program and better-than-expected economic growth. It also said the outlook for Cyprus is stable, with good economic progress offset by lingering challenges to its banking system, which is still burdened with a huge amount of bad loans.

BRITAIN-ECONOMY

LONDON (AP) -- Official figures show Britain's economic recovery is continuing, despite a gloomy global environment.

The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product grew 0.7 percent in the three months through September compared with the previous three months. That is down slightly from a 0.9 percent quarterly rate in the April-June period but remains among the strongest growth rates among developed economies.

Compared with a year earlier, the economy was 3.0 percent larger.

Treasury Chief George Osborne says the figures show Britain "continues to lead the pack in an increasingly uncertain global economy."

Samuel Tombs, the senior U.K. economist for Capital Economics, says growth in Europe's third largest economy has become broader-based, though recent falls in stock markets, manufacturing surveys and eurozone growth have intensified concerns over the recovery.

advertisement