HILLSBORO, Ore. – Parents have been fighting for years without success to get a church near a public grade school to move its meetings for sex offenders.
They say they've run into roadblocks trying to get this sex offender meeting to move. They say they've been trying for at least three years to convince Sonrise Church, where these registered offenders meet, to move the meeting far away from any schools.
Additionally, some of these sex offenders will actually start living at the church within the next month, KATU News has learned.
The motto at the church is "A safe place to hear a life changing message." But parents who have children right next door at Quatama Elementary School question that message.
The church holds a service every week and as many as 120 registered sex offenders attend.
"This like having an AA meeting in a bar," said parent Shannon Jones.
It's about 60 steps from the church to the school, a distance that can be walked in just over a half-minute.
Parents want the Hillsboro School District to notify everyone about what's going on and "help us communicate to families right in this area that might not know," said Marcy Tell.
But they say the district refuses.
A district spokesperson says the district takes no position on the issue and that it has a good relationship with the church.
Employees at the church were resistant to speak to KATU News Thursday. But a pastor said he won't move the services. The church was there first, and he said security guards are at the church to protect kids.
Parents question his truthfulness because of something that happened at another church seven years ago.
Pastor Jerry Mettee filed a false police report in 2005 saying he was stabbed by a burglar when, in fact, he stabbed himself. But the church and district said there hasn't been one incident involving offenders and kids.
"You can't undo something after it's already happened and make it all better," Jones said.
Jones, also a survivor of childhood sex abuse, says she doesn't want that first incident to occur, and that's why she's going public with her concerns.
Parents also question the relationship between the district and Sonrise because the church donates up to $5,000 a year to the schools.
They also want state laws to change to outlaw these types of offender meetings and treatment centers near schools.
Thom Jensen found out about this story through a news tip. If you have a story for any of the “On Your Side” investigators, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.