Archive for Friday, April 28, 2006

Sexual predator Leroy Hendricks won’t be returned to Leavenworth County

Kansas Supreme Court upholds land-use decision

April 28, 2006

Sexual predator Leroy Hendricks will not be moved back to Leavenworth County.

Today, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a Leavenworth County District Court judge's decision which will prevent a group home for sexual predators from being established in southern Leavenworth County.

Leavenworth County counselor David Van Parys, said the issue focused on Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and a private contractor.

"In essence they (SRS and the private contractor) were trying to create a treatment center for violent sexual predators without going through any local land use review process," Van Parys said.

In the concurring opinion, Kansas Supreme Court Justice J. Rosen wrote, "My decision is based solely on the appellant's failure to obtain a special use permit as required by those zoning regulations and not on a finding of irreparable harm as required for injunctive relief. ..."

On June 1 last year, SRS moved the then 70-year-old wheelchair-bound Hendricks into a home at 24130 Golden Road. The home is in a rural residential neighborhood just south of Kansas Highway 32, about 5 miles west of Linwood.

But Lawrence residents Rick and Linda Whitson, who planned to establish the group home for sexual predators at the site, had failed to obtain a special use permit before moving Hendricks into the facility.

They planned to keep Hendricks under 24-hour surveillance. In turn, the state would pay them $278,000 to house and guard Hendricks there for a 15-month period.

Hendricks, who had a 50-year history of molesting children, had completed the first five stages of treatment in the state's sexual predator program at Larned State Hospital. He lived at LSH from 1994 until a year ago when he was moved to Osawatomie State Hospital in preparation for a move to a private transition center. This would have been the sixth stage of his treatment -- where he would have started to have contact with the community.

Hendricks has been widely quoted as saying the only way he would stop molesting children would be if he died.

Immediately after learning of Hendricks' placement in the county, Leavenworth County commissioners sought a permanent injunction against the use of the property as a group home, without a special use permit.

Within days, Hendricks was moved back to Osawatomie State Hospital.

On July 19, Leavenworth County District Judge David King granted a temporary injunction, and in August, King granted a permanent injunction, which prevented the house from being used as a treatment facility for violent sexual predators.

The Whitsons appealed King's ruling and on Sept. 6, Gregory Lee, an attorney for the Whitsons, filed a motion to transfer the case to the Kansas Supreme Court. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Leavenworth County commissioner Dean Oroke was pleased with the Court's decision.
"I feel relieved that it's beyond us to this extent," Oroke said. "As a regulatory government agency, you wonder, how good are your regulations when you need them -- I think this is a case that we had adequate rules and regulations and safeguards in place to protect the neighborhood and protect the property when there was an alleged misuse of the land-use laws within Leavenworth County."

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