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RI city won't force sex offenders to quickly evict

By Michelle R. Smith
Associated Press / July 20, 2012
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PROVIDENCE, R.I.—The city of Providence on Friday agreed not to force the evictions of three sex offenders while a lawsuit is pending over a state law that bans them from living within 300 feet of a school.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued this week over the law, which it says is unconstitutionally vague and broad. It sued the state and city on behalf of two developmentally disabled men and one veteran who were told by Providence police on June 18 that they lived too close to a school and would have to move within 30 days or face arrest.

Kevin McHugh, an attorney for the city, told Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter on Friday that police wouldn't arrest the men while the lawsuit is pending.

Taft-Carter asked all sides to file legal arguments next month and said oral arguments would likely be held at the end of September, if needed.

The ACLU's lawyer, Katherine Godin, said that she knew the state and city hoped to resolve the matter as close to the beginning of the school year as possible but that the probation and parole office at the state Department of Corrections had either assigned the men to live there or knew they were living there.

"The police and the state understand that these guys have been there, some of them for years, without a problem," she said.

Among the questions that still must be resolved is how to measure the distance from a school to the men's homes. The lawsuit says that by some measures, the men do not live within 300 feet of a school.

Godin said the city had notified at least six other sex offenders that they must also move and said that if police attempt to arrest them, she will add them to the lawsuit.

Supporters of the men say they would lose their housing and possibly become homeless if forced to move. The two developmentally disabled men, Dennis Gesmondi and Dallas Huard, live in Warren Manor II, a Providence assisted-living facility that provides mental health and substance abuse treatment. The veteran, George Madancy, lives in an apartment in Providence.

Godin said Gesmondi and Huard were placed in Warren Manor by the probation and parole office of the Department of Corrections. The same department knew Madancy was living in his apartment, she said.

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