My story begins with a new chapter in my life story unfolding. I previously worked for Walgreen's as a store manager and that career path took me out of the state of Florida for seven years to manage a store in South East GA. My wife and I had lived in Florida for our entire lives up until the point we moved away. We had one child at the time and we had two more while living in GA and one while in transition back to Florida. With us being from Florida and our family still in Florida when I had a opportunity to take a store over in Florida I took it. We decided we were going to build our home on the lake that me and my wife had our first date. We were super excited and had started cleaning up the land we were going to build. It is a long piece of land that stretches out down to the water. I was down by the water one day and my wife and children were at the top of the property cleaning up there. I noticed a little green truck pull up and stop to talk with my wife. I didn't think much of it at the time because I thought it was just a neighbor stopping to introduce themselves. They were there a short while then drove away. I could tell by my wife's body language that something was wrong so I went to check it out. She said something just didn't set right with her on the interaction she just had with that man and women in the truck. They said they were looking at the lot just down from us and wanted to purchase it. They were hesitant to give her there names while introducing themselves and her mom senses went off. My wife is very observant and always thoroughly checks places out before we move in them. Since she had that feeling she decided to see if there were any sexual offenders close by. She didn't show any living in the near by area but she just knew something wasn't right. She decided to go to the states website that posts all sexual offenders and there he was. The guy she was talking to was registered as a sexual predator. A sexual predator is a class of their own because the crimes are worse. It wasn't showing that he currently owned any of the property around us and we were already locked into our construction loan at that point anyways. We started to pray that he wouldn't get that property next to us and that he was just checking it out. Unfortunately our worst fears were realized in February of the following year. He did in fact purchase the property. This was devastating news because we were already well into the build of our home and even if we wanted to sell it who was going to buy it for what we paid for it with a sexual predator next store? We home school our children and at the time I was gone from the house 10+ hours a day with work. Knowing all of this we started researching the laws and come to find out his property is within 1000 feet of a county park and according to the law this is not allowed. We were excited with that discovery since we felt they would fix the mistake of putting him there once we pointed that out. We were wrong with that assessment. We talked to his probation officer, all of her bosses up the chain, the county commissioners, the Sheriff and anyone else who would listen. The probation officer said there wasn't nothing they could do basically because the state didn't view it as a park and her bosses all took the same stance. Even though our county commissioner gave us county paperwork stating it was a park. The Sheriff was afraid to act because the state approved him to be there. We were frustrated to say the least. All of this time of us trying to work this out this predator was doing things to push the envelope. He was caught on the property right next to us looking into our yard with out the property owners permission while my kids played outside, he paddled his kayak right in front of our home as our kids were swimming and he was caught at the park setting in his kayak at the waters edge as children swam at the park. Even after notifying the powers that be they still said there was nothing they could do. Our last hope we felt after talking to a lawyer was to file a writ of mandamus. It is a legal tool used to force a administrative action out of a governing authority in a nut shell. We had exhausted every other option at this point, including putting up a 8ft tall privacy fence around a large portion of out property to try and get some piece of mind. After talking to our lawyer and paying out of pocket over 6 grand, not including what we put into the fence, we had them put together the writ. The writ laid our case out perfectly and my wife even included a 500+ signature petition she had local families and individuals sign, that would, stating it was a park where children regularly congregate. We had hoped that the state would just admit to their error and make it right, but unfortunately that did not happen. They responded today and their argument is that we don't have standing to bring the case forward and that they don't see it as a park. If we don't have standing then who does!?! My lawyer now has to file a response to their response and he feels that this will go in front of a judge to be litigated. He estimates that it will cost another 4000-8000 dollars to see this through. I unfortunately do not have the funds currently to push this across the finish line and I feel in my heart that we will win. We have to try for our children's sake and so maybe the state will not make this same mistakes in the future. They are putting families at risk with the process they are currently using. This motivated my wife to get county regulations change through petitioning the board of commissioner's. They agreed to make it harder for these type of offenders to be placed in high risk areas of the county. This was a great step in the right direction but if the state doesn't honor their wishes what good has it done? I am asking if you feel moved to do so to please donate to help us see this through. We have fought hard up to this point and I know the Lord has a plan in this. Thank you for the consideration. Any unused funds I will have donated back to give send go.
Campaign Created by: Matthew Finch
The funds from this campaign will be received by Matthew Finch.
Goal: USD $10,000
Raised: USD $ 200
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