PORTLAND, Ore. – A sex offender treatment provider, located near homes, schools and a Boys and Girls Club for nearly a year, is moving out the of the Southeast Portland neighborhood they had called home.
Whole Systems on Milwaukie Avenue was the subject of a heated neighborhood meeting Monday night in Westmoreland. Neighbors were furious that they were in the dark about the center’s existence.
There are no signs outside the building, but the door can be seen from the playground of the nearby Boys and Girls Club. The Montessori school is also less than 300 feet away.
Johneen Manno, director of Whole Systems, showed up at Monday night’s meeting but was asked to leave.
Tuesday morning, a sign taped to the inside of the door simply said "MOVING."
It’s unclear where the center will move. Manno told KATU’s Thom Jensen by phone that she is currently looking for a new location.
Ron Shaw, who owns the property, said he released Manno from the five year rental contract to allow the move.
“I didn’t just want to ramrod her out of there in one month or so, because it’s not the type of business where you can just move out overnight,” said Shaw.
One hundred twenty convicts from Clackamas and Multnomah counties receive court-ordered counseling at the center for crimes like molestation, possession of child pornography and rape of a minor.
“As a parent, I wouldn’t want this kind of situation anywhere where there’s children,” said Natalie Mandarano, who owns a business across the street from Whole Systems. “Maybe a jail? Maybe they should have these meetings in a jail. I don’t know.”
Treatment clinics like Whole Systems can end up in any neighborhood where businesses already exist. That's because there's no local or state agency that decides where providers like Whole Systems can operate.
Clinicians and counselors are not required by law to operate under location restrictions, like a certain distance from a school, according to a spokesman for the Oregon Health Licensing Agency. They don’t have to notify neighbors either.
KATU News found 15 active sex offender treatment centers in Multnomah County and six active clinical therapists in Clackamas County, including Whole Systems.
"We will follow this because we don't want it to go to another neighborhood," said neighbor Shannon Quimby. "That is our goal. Our goal is not just our neighborhood - no neighborhood."
KATU's Thom Jensen and Bob Heye contributed to this story.