Sex offenders in nearby home worry Ashland neighborhood

A group of Quiet Village residents who are concerned about three sex offenders who live in a home on Nevada Street have organized a meeting at nearby Helman Elementary School to discuss the issue.

The three male sex offenders living at the home in the 300 block of West Nevada Street are in compliance with the law and are not considered predatory offenders, said Sgt. Warren Hensman of the Ashland Police Department, whose beat includes the neighborhood. Police are not aware of anything unlawful occurring in Quiet Village because of the presence of the three men, and Hensman said he considers the neighborhood safe.

Still, some of the neighbors — including several with children — feel uncomfortable living near convicted sex offenders, they said.

"It's a nightmare," said Lisa Rand, who is helping to organize the meeting. "The house is right down the street from an elementary school and this neighborhood is crammed full of kids. It freaks me out."

The neighborhood meeting will be from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Aug. 2 in the Helman library, 705 Helman St. Hensman and Ashland police Lt. Corey Falls will attend to answer questions.

The owner of the home where the sex offenders are living, Eugene Haag, said he also plans to attend. Haag, a regional chaplain for the Oregon Department of Corrections, said he rents rooms to sex offenders in order to help them rehabilitate their lives.

"The reason I do what I do is to help people not to re-offend, because I don't want my children or my grandchildren to be offended by people," he said. "I'm trying to do something to keep the community safe."

Rand said she and other neighbors hope Haag will decide to stop renting the home to sex offenders.

"We want to negotiate with Mr. Haag and hopefully he will decide that housing sex offenders is not appropriate for the neighborhood," she said.

But Haag said he has no intention of changing the way he rents the house.

"Why would I do something else when I'm helping the community and being a benefit to the community?" he said. "I'm dedicated to our community and to keeping it safe."

Eventually, he wants to rent the home only to women on parole, instead of men, but he hasn't found a suitable person to manage a women's home, he said.

Haag said he has been renting out rooms in the Ashland home to sex offenders and others on parole since 1974, and none of the residents has committed a crime while living at the home. Typically between three and five people live at the home, he said.

He also rents out two homes in Medford to sex offenders, and one of them is his own. Haag charges rent to people who can afford it, he said.

Haag's homes are on a list of housing resources the Jackson County Community Justice department gives people on parole, said Nate Gaoiran, a Community Justice program manager who supervises the sex offender unit.

"The parole department recognizes him as a resource in the community to provide a residence for sex offenders," he said.

Gaoiran said it's often difficult for sex offenders to find housing after they are released from prison, so Haag's homes serve a need.

"It's absolutely a needed service to provide any kind of residence for a high-risk, high-need population that is typically viewed as having a lack of resources once they're released from prison," he said. "He does offer a very valued service that we appreciate."

Gaoiran, who has worked for the department for 10 years, said he isn't aware of any problems occurring at Haag's homes.

Before sex offenders move into one of his homes, Haag said he examines their criminal records and interviews them to see whether they are a good fit. He sometimes admits predatory sex offenders, he said.

"We don't just take anybody," Haag said. "We take people that have shown the ability to improve their lives and we help them to continue improving."

The homes are not considered group homes and Haag does not provide treatment services to residents, although he does offer religious guidance and considers them Christian homes, he said. Haag said he started Ashland's first Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings at the Ashland home in the '70s.

Two of the offenders at the Ashland home are not currently required to be under supervision by police, said Vi Beaty, manager of the Oregon State Sex Offender Registry with Oregon State Police.

One of them was convicted of second-degree sex abuse in 1999, and third-degree sex abuse and first-degree attempted sex abuse in 2004, she said. Another was convicted of a sex crime in 1991 in California and third-degree sodomy in 2005, according to Oregon records, which don't include details on the California crime, she said.

Beaty said state laws prohibit her from releasing information on the third sex offender, because he is under supervision. Gaoiran said he couldn't look up the criminal history of the man without having his name, which Beaty said she cannot release.

Because the three men aren't considered predatory sex offenders, their names do not appear on the state's public registry online and police are not required to notify neighbors when the men reside in the area.

Rand said she believes the law is unfair to neighbors.

"It seems like the law really protects the offender and not the neighborhood," she said.

Haag said marginalizing sex offenders once they're released from prison doesn't help them to rehabilitate.

"Nobody wants them in their neighborhood," he said. "Where do they go? Where do they go?"

Contact Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or

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