Sex offender moving next to multiple schools and parks
Klamath Falls, Ore. —
Mills Kiwanis Park is a place that many in the Mills Neighborhood in Klamath Falls call home, but in 2 weeks all of that may change.
Christopher Benson, a level 3 sex offender who was convicted of multiple sex abuses charges, and isn't allowed to have contact with anyone under the age of 18 is getting out of prison soon, and he will be moving 1 block away from Mills Kiwanis Park.
He will also be within walking distance of a children's museum, Klamath Family Head Start, the YMCA, Klamath Falls Adventist School, Stukel Park, and Mills Elementary School.
"My daughter has told me that she now feels she has to carry a weapon with her just to feel like she can step outside of the house," said Michelle Phillips, who lives on the block that Benson will move into.
The neighborhood is doing what they can to fight back, including collecting signatures to hand over to local leaders.
So far, they've collected more than 100 signatures.
Neighbors say that they understand that Benson has to move somewhere, but feel that he should be at a place that is not so close to children.
"We're not asking for him to come to your neighborhood, we're just asking for the county to do more research," said Jamie Milligan, the resident who started the petition.
Klamath County Community Corrections was unaware of the petition when they spoke to News 10.
It says it's doing everything it can to keep the community safe but there are no laws against Benson moving near a park.
They say Benson is paying to live in the home with his own money, and that it's difficult to find somewhere to live in Klamath Falls.
"In this case just like many cases it's difficult for people to find rentals or places to live," said Kiki Parker-Rose, Klamath County Community Corrections Director.
Klamath County Community Corrections say Benson will be monitored.
He will have an ankle bracelet that tracks his whereabouts, and he will not be able to leave his yard.
"He won't be leaving his resident without being escorted by the patrol or probation department," Parker-Rose said.
Despite a meeting with Community Corrections, some in the neighborhood are still on edge.
"A lot of us in this neighborhood come from really horrible backgrounds. A lot of us have lost our children, a lot of us have just regained our children back, a lot of us have been victims of sexual crimes, a lot of our children have been victim of sexual crimes, and the fact that we have to go home and explain to our children who already suffer from problems in this sensitive neighborhood that there is going to be a monster looking at them from out the window everyday is unacceptable," said Milligan.
Milligan says she and others from the neighborhood will petition around town in the upcoming days. Her online petition link is here.
Parker-Rose said she would be willing to take input from the community on ideas for other places that Benson could be relocated to.