Judge: Sexual predator barred from county
A Leavenworth County judge ruled Tuesday that a notorious sexual predator cannot legally live in the county.
Leavenworth County officials went to court last week, arguing that the state's department of Social and Rehabilitation Services should not be allowed to place sexual predator Leroy Hendricks at a single-family home in southwestern Leavenworth County.
Leavenworth County District Judge David King agreed and on Tuesday granted a temporary injunction in the case.
After the ruling was handed down, Leavenworth County Commissioner Dean Oroke said he was pleased.
"It's not just the one individual that's being placed there," Oroke said. "It's that SRS has 130 other such individuals that are going to be placed throughout the state of Kansas. So this was probably the beginning of how SRS could place someone, where they could place them.
"Had we lost this case, SRS probably would have been able to put them wherever they wish in the state, with no regard to local planning and notification."
On June 1, Hendricks, 70, moved into the three-bedroom home at 24130 Golden Road, about five miles west of Linwood, just south of Kansas Highway 32.
Two days later, the county commission filed suit, seeking Hendricks' removal. A judge granted a temporary restraining order, and Hendricks was removed from the home.
In his ruling, King said that the use of the house as a "Sex Predator Treatment Program Transitional Living facility is not a permitted use."
SRS is contracting with the owner of the house -- Lawrence resident Richard Whitson, director of Community Provisional Living Inc. -- to house Hendricks. Whitson originally tried to house Hendricks in Douglas County, but residents there protested. On May 27, Whitson purchased the rural property in Leavenworth County, planning to keep Hendricks, and possibly in the future, several other men like him, under 24-hour surveillance. The state was going to pay $278,000 to house and guard Hendricks for a 15-month period.
Hendricks is known for fighting the state's sexual-predator law before the U.S. Supreme Court, and he famously was quoted as saying the only sure way he'd stop molesting children was if he died.
Hendricks has what the U.S. Supreme Court called a "chilling history" of repeated sexual abuse or molestation of children, starting in 1955. His victims include at least 10 children through three decades, including his stepchildren and two young boys he molested while working at a carnival, according to the Supreme Court.
In his Tuesday ruling, King said that a sexual predator facility is not allowed under laws that allow group homes to operate in residential neighborhoods.
Therefore, the judge said, the county can enforce its zoning and subdivision regulations, which would require a special-use permit before the home could be used to house Hendricks. The county commission rules on whether such permits are issued.
"We'll have to deal with that if that comes about," Oroke said.
Attempts to reach Whitson for comment and to determine whether he will try to secure a permit were unsuccessful.