OGDEN, Utah (News4Utah) One day after Wanda Barzee was released from prison, she joined thousands of registered sex offenders who must obey special restrictions while living in Utah.
However, Utah law has little to say over where a convicted sex abuser lives.
Ogden has the highest percentage of registered sex offenders compared to the state’s ten most populated cities.
Growing up in Ogden, LaRen Rasmussen suffered abuse for over a decade.
“It stays with you forever. It’s nothing you forget; you can’t forget,” Rasmussen said.
As an adult, she was outraged when a registered sex offender moved in two doors down. Today, 576 registered sex offenders call Ogden home.
“I am very alarmed. I am very surprised because we are not that big of a community,” Rasmussen said.
From the corner of 25th Street and Lincoln Avenue, 154 registered sex offenders live within a one-mile radius.
“It’s scary not knowing who that is and what would happen to a kid just walking down the street,” Emily Hartmann said.
“t doesn’t surprise me at all. It is a downtown area,” Brent Atwood said.
Ogden Police blame the high concentration on the Department of Corrections halfway house off at 2445 Water Tower Way. Convicted sex abusers with nowhere else to go are sent there and often stay in town.
Unlike most states, Utah law does not restrict where a sex offender can live. The only zones off-limits for those convicted of a crime against a minor include:
- Licensed daycares or preschools
- Public swimming pools
- Public parks
- Public playgrounds.
Registered sex offenders can live near these areas as long as they don’t step foot on the restricted property.
“I just want to know that she’s safe at all times. To know that there aren’t that kind of restrictions is unnerving,” Ellis Miller said while holding his young daughter.
Unnerving, especially for survivors according to Rasmussen.
“What about the victims? They can’t go on and live their lives. They won’t ever be reformed,” Rasmussen said.
To find out if a registered sex offender is living near your home, click here.
The cities with the highest percentage of per-capita registered sex offenders:
- Salt Lake City
- West Jordan
- West Valley City
- St. George
- South Jordan