Officials struggles to house sexually violent persons after their release

By Erin Beu, WJFW News 

PORTAGE COUNTY - Violent sex offenders need places to live once they've served prison time and are considered safe for supervised release. Finding Housing for them is challenging.

For example, Charles Anderson is 74 years old and became a registered sex offender in 1992. Court documents show he confessed to abusing more than a hundred children in his lifetime.

In 2005, Portage County petitioned to have him committed to the Sand Ridge Treatment Facility in Mauston. He's considered a sexually violent person.

He's been there ever since.

"We live in an imperfect world," said State Representative Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point.

Shankland says when Anderson completed his criminal sentence and treatment he was approved for release back in January.

State law demands sexually violent persons be released to the county where the offender lived.

"These people are the worst of the worst," said Portage County District Attorney Louis Molepske.

Molepske says the state helps find housing options. Additionally, the state suggested Anderson live in a house in the town of Alban near Rosholt in Portage County.

However, a Portage County Judge denied that request, saying it was too close to the town's community center, which is inside the Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative building.

Moreover, because of this decision, Anderson is still in custody even though his release date was nearly five months ago.

"They have to be released because they served their criminal sentence. Wisconsin's entire program could be thrown out the window," said Molepske.

The Portage County Judge was able to turn away Anderson due to a 2016 amendment of a Wisconsin Law. The Wisconsin Legislature ACT 156 strictly limits where sexually violent persons can live and move about.

"What ACT 156 did is drastically took away the amount of places that offenders could be placed," said Shankland.

ACT 156 is a long list of restrictions which means sexually violent persons virtually have no place to live in most communities.

"It shouldn't take two years to find a placement," said Molepske.

The Department of Health Services is currently looking for another housing placement for Anderson.

"This individual may be coming to a community nearest you," said Molepske.

However, even though this house was deemed unfit for a sexually violent person by a Portage County Judge, one sexually violent person from Washington County and one from Chippewa County currently live in that house.