County having trouble finding court-ordered placement for sex offender
Christopher Waggoner, 54, was convicted of several counts of sexual assault in Monroe County Circuit Court in 1996. He was sentenced to prison and is set to be released into the county in the near future, but that is proving to be a tall order to fill for local officials.
The county is responsible for finding an appropriate residence for Waggoner that meets court-ordered restrictions, such as distance from schools, parks and children.
In 1995, Waggoner admitted to sexually assaulting several girls in Sparta, ranging in age from 5 to 15.
In September 2008, the court ordered Monroe County Human Services to identify a residence for Waggoner to be released to in Monroe County. It also ordered the county to form what is called a 980 Committee to assist in fulfilling the court order.
That committee consists of representatives from law enforcement, the district attorney's office, probation and parole, human services and the corporation counsel.
So far, according County Administrator Tina Osterberg, the committee has had little luck finding a willing landlord willing or able to take Waggoner as a tenant.
She said 17 properties have been considered and eliminated as possibilities for various reasons.
The committee has placed newspapers ads and worked with realtors in an effort to find adequate housing for Waggoner.
"Despite the Wisconsin Department of Human Services paying the rent, there is a limited number of landlords who want to take on this landlord-tenant relationship," said Osterberg.
She added that it may become an issue for the county board, which may have to authorize hiring someone to search for a property, or possible buying a residence and selling it to a willing landlord. The county also could consider building a home and selling it to a willing landlord.
She said the court could hold the county in contempt if it fails to find suitable housing for Waggoner, noting the county has already exceeded time limits prescribed by state law.
"It is the county's responsibility to find a place for (Waggoner)," she said.
While Waggoner was convicted in Monroe County, law enforcement and residents have been worried the county is becoming a dumping ground for sex offenders from other parts of the state.
Several sex offenders convicted in other counties have been released to a residence near Tomah over the past years and officials recently held a public information session on another scheduled to be released to the same residence.