GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) – A federal judge has ruled that homeless sex offenders may stay overnight at shelters near schools in Grand Rapids despite a state law prohibiting them from living within 1,000 feet of a school.

U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist issued the ruling Tuesday, after determining that homeless people do not “reside” in emergency shelters if they only go there at night to sleep and have no guarantee of a place to stay on a given night.

Both of Grand Rapids’ shelters are within that student-safety zone.

Quist narrowed his ruling to this case, and rejected a request for an injunction to prevent enforcement of provisions of the Sex Offender Registration Act and student safety zones. The lawsuit was brought by several homeless people with criminal-sexual conduct convictions, Mel Trotter Ministries and Degage Ministries.

The case was brought after 51-year-old Thomas Pauli froze to death in January 2009 after an overnight shelter denied him admission because he was on the state’s Sex Offender Registry. He had a 1991 sexual assault conviction involving a pre-teen girl.

“After the death of Thomas Pauli, the shelter-advocacy community really came together to say no one should freeze to death,” said Miriam Aukerman, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. “To freeze to death on the street, that’s a horrible fate. No one deserves that.”

An email seeking comment was sent Thursday by The Associated Press to representatives of the office of Michigan’s attorney general.

The state argued that homeless shelters had no obligation under the law to determine whether a visitor is a sex offender, and said a challenge should come after someone is prosecuted. The state said those who sued failed to identify any injury the court could act upon.

“As Michigan law now stands … plaintiffs have no well-founded fear of prosecution,” Assistant Attorney General John Fedynsky wrote in court documents.

The ACLU said homeless sex-offender registrants were threatened with arrest if they used homeless shelters as residences, and both the homeless and shelters needed clarification of the law. The homeless people who filed suit were identified only by pseudonyms.

“I think this ruling is actually a big win for public safety because what the research shows is that people who don’t have stable housing, people who don’t have a place to stay are more likely to commit crimes. All of us are safer knowing that registrants’ basic human needs are met,” said Aukerman.

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Comments (59)
  1. Michael Hunt says:

    Why doesn’t the judge and ACLU lawyer open their homes to the sex offenders among the homeless instead of putting mine at risk?

    1. heatherfeather says:

      The judges and lawyers are above you, peon!

      Sarcasm aside, these judges and lawyers need to be held accountable for their decisions.

    2. Ryan Santos says:

      Because they are Better than you, that is why, they Get Paid Better so they can live Better than We The People. They are the New Royalty that we have acquired after getting Rid of the Red Coats in Rev of 1776.
      Believe it or Not, we need a NewRevolution, to get Rid of the New Royalty, whether it is at the Voting Booths, or at the Business end of AR-15, but it will havd to be done. Why do you think the Government is trying to Hard to eliminate Guns from We The People..

      “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”
      – George Washington

    3. Mary says:

      Yes Michael. I understand that Judge Quist who ruled on the case has a history of having a soft spot for child molesters. Isn’t that interesting?

    4. daniel goichman says:

      It’s really simple. Sex offenders are the most punished human beings on the planet behind murderers. It’s time to end this game of feeding them to the wolves. Challenge every law on the books in every state in the country until these people get ttheir rights back and these laws get thrown out. The only dangerous people in the US popuilation are the morons who dislike sex offenders and the weak, insipid politicians who give in to them with these all of these thoughtless, useless laws. Time to end the registry now. Time to end background checks for jobs. Time to end CORI. Time to end automatic registration without due process. Let’s stand up and have our voices heard. “we want Megan’s Law, Jessica’s Law, Adaam Walsh Act repealed now” we want fix term of ten yrs for any sexual offense over 12 wiht automatic removal from registry after 10 yrs from date of arrest. criminal records sealed completely after tn yrs date of arrest for first offense. we want registry privatized so public is Excluded from that information. We want all registryation fees and requirments dropped.

  2. jstan442 says:

    but the children who they molested that wasn’t a horrible thing???? i tell you what–build them a shelter near the jail–then no parent will have to worry about their child and if you put bars on the windows of the building the homeless sex offender will feel right at home—-and while you are at it was this judge voted in or appointed by a dhimmicrat??if voted in then throw him out

    1. Albert Redding says:

      So Jstan442, when are you going to donate the millions needed to build that brand spankin new homeless shelter right next to the jail in Grand Rapids. ITS time you REPUKES stoppped hoarding all that money of yours and start giving some of it to charity. YOUR THE ONES WHO ARE AGAINST TAXPAYER MONEY BEING USED FOR SOCIAL SERVICES so start anteing up your fair share for a change!

      1. Russ in OR says:

        A new book, titled “Who Really Cares” by Arthur C. Brooks examines the actual behavior of liberals and conservatives when it comes to donating their own time, money, or blood for the benefit of others. It is remarkable that beliefs on this subject should have become conventional, if not set in concrete, for decades before anyone bothered to check these beliefs against facts.

        What are those facts?

        People who identify themselves as conservatives donate money to charity more often than people who identify themselves as liberals. They donate more money and a higher percentage of their incomes.

        It is not that conservatives have more money. Liberal families average 6 percent higher incomes than conservative families.

      2. Ryan Santos says:

        Jstan442, ..7.62 x 39 surplus ammo, is cheap right now, so stock up, Do Gooders and Bleeding Hearts are just as dangerous as the Peds/Molesters that are sitting on the Bench. Why do you think Molesters sentences are very begnin,..Could it be that the Judges have the Same Problem…Blessed Be.
        Ryan Santos, American.

      3. Kim says:

        You’re ridiculous, Albert. Republicans are the ones who give their own money to charity. Democrats want social services paid for by taxpayers that benefit THEM FOR VOTES ONLY. Do you think Nancy and obama CARE about the poor? Oh puleeze. Get it now? Wise up, little man or you’ll soon see the error of your ways.

        BTW, obama’s cronies are the money hoarders, but you turn the other cheek to the truth.

    2. Pilot.Dave says:

      Well said…

    3. RobynHeud says:

      Being a sex offender does not necessarily mean that you molested a child. In some states urinating in public, streaking, or sleeping with your underage girlfriend (think 18yo with a 16 or 17yo) can get you on the sex offender registry. In some states, children as young as 5 have been put on the registry. Also the recidivism rate is extremely low for sexual offenders, especially if they have the support of the community. That means therapy, housing and a job. I’m not saying we should hand it out to them or anyone, but we shouldn’t be denying them based on their past. And one last thing, over 90% of children are molested by someone they know; a parent, grandparent, close friend, etc. That means it’s far more likely that the crime will take place in the child’s own home, not at a homeless shelter down the street from their school.

  3. John Doee says:

    Next the judge will grant a pass to allow them to eat at Chuck-E-Cheese just because the food is so great.

    1. Ryan Santos says:

      You Laugh, but in My County, 90% of the Judges (Hidalgo County, Texas), are Peds or Child Molester and smoke Pot and Do Cocaine. It is a Well Greased Cog, with the District Attorney and 90% of the Lawyers Feeding the Pig…Blessed Be.
      Ryan Santos, American.

      “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
      – Benjamin Franklin

    2. Marbran says:

      Chuck-E-Cheese is not off-limits to registered sex offenders, although it might be if they are still under supervision and the PO says to stay away. Only schools, day care facilities, youth sports groups, scouts, and churches that offer child programs.

      Sex offenders have the lowest rate of repeat offenses, and most offenses are by someone the victim knows. The media has created the idea that every sex offender is a danger to our society, but this is far from the reality. Muggers, thieves, burglars, killers, etc., are far more dangerous, and very often repeat their crimes again and again. But…no registry for them.

      The Registry is a false sense of security and make police and politicians appear tough on crime.

  4. Tony says:

    You guys do realize that not everyone on the Sex Offender registry molested a child. Anything from smacking a girl on the but in college, a senior dating a freshman, or things like peeing in public can get you on the list.
    I love how the state throws a scarlet letter on people and the sheeple (that would be you guys) blindly discriminate, hate, and pay extra taxes so the authorities can “protect” you from the evil doers.

    1. Tony Fanuci says:

      I guess that must mean you are on a Sex Offender list. Why are you on this site, shouldn’t you be looking for porn?

      1. Marbran says:

        Do you see the words “sex offender” and immediately imagine a big, hairy man raping a poor, defenseless 10-y.o. girl? If you do, then the media has successfully brainwashed you. Go do some research, then come back and tell us what you found out. Thanks!

    2. Smiley says:

      You are correct. The stupidity of political correctness has made virtually everything a sex crime. I don’t mean to demean rape, molestation or other awful offenses, but when you are labeled as a sex offender for awkwardly complimenting a woman or somethink akin to that, then there is a massive problem with the system.

      1. fred says:

        Y’all are really missing the point; no matter if they raped or tapped a bottom; THEY HAVE BEEN DEEMED BY THE COURTS TO BE A DANGER TO CHILDREN!!!!!

        There should be zero tolerance to endangering children, unless of course you are a lefty judge and an ACLU/b hussein ally, in which case F@#$ the children because socialism trumps everyone’s right o not be gang raped!!!

      2. Tony says:

        fred, you are incorrect. They have not been deemed by the courts to be deemed a danger to children. Politicians put people on the registries retroactively, sometimes going back decades for crimes.
        The Adam Walsh Act “forced” states to put anyone who was ever convicted of any sexual crime on the registry. Then people like you assume that everyone on the registry is a danger to children.
        I am not on the registry, but I have a good friend of mine who dated a girl when he was 19 and she was 15 (in 1995). Her parents didn’t like him so they called the cops to “break them up”. He pled guilty to a misdemeanor sexual contact charge because it was no big deal.
        in 2010 (15 years later) when he’s married to that same girl and has 3 children with her the state put him on the sex offender registry and all hell broke lose. The public acted just the way most people on this forum are acting and assumed he was a child molester and essentially banished him from society. He lost his job, his house, his kids are harassed and they are now practically homeless. He used to have a 6 figure income and he can’t even get a job at McDonalds now because of the registry.
        Now, you guys think he should just die on the street in the cold… Very Nice.

      3. Tom says:

        @ Tony. That’s actually a very good argument. Sadly, it’s probably more prevalent than reported. Put the real sex offenders in jail, not some teenager who’s not a danger to society.

      4. sammie says:

        nice fairy tale tony

    3. shemp says:

      awwww. poor, innocents. why can’t they all just huddle together for warmth, and maybe a little spontaneous swordfighting?

    4. Ryan Santos says:

      A Skunk painted any other Color, will Still Smell. If you had kept your hands to Yourself, you wouldn’t be on the List…Blessed Be. Ryan Santos, American.

      1. Marbran says:

        90% of all charged individuals, charged with any crime, will take a plea agreement rather than face a jury trial. Our legal system is designed this way, to keep cases moving through the system. Prosecutors are very willing to make plea deals, because otherwise the court system will be utterly back-logged. Everyone in the system knows this. So…many accused sex offenders take the easy road, including registration, to just get it all over with. That doesn’t mean that the offender will strike again. 7% recidivism rate for sex offenders. Look it up at the DoJ.

    5. Pilot.Dave says:


      Don’t you read english ? That 51 year old man was in his 30’s when he sexually asunted a PRE-TEEN !!! We are not talking about high school kids having sex – PRE-TEEN !!!

  5. Cogiito says:

    If my child were molested by one of these perverts, the Judge and the ACLU attorney would be making the ultimate sacrifice.

    1. Big Bear says:

      That needs to happen. These high and mighty Officers of the Court will continue to trample on us as long as they know they can get away with it.

      1. Ryan Santos says:

        “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”
        – George Washington

  6. Ryan Santos says:

    Most of those Idiot Judges should be Tarred and Feathered and run out of Office, these are the Idiots Newt was talking about. If anyone is Injured by their stupidity, they should be held Responsible for the Crime that was commited by their Bleeding Heart Rulings.. Judges have to Right to cancel the Law enactred by the Citizens of the State. Their Total job is to make sure the Law is Enforced to the Letter. Maybe Ar and Feathering is to Soft a Punishment, they should Drawn and Quatered…Blessed Be. Ryan Santos, American.

  7. David Moore says:

    One of these times – the judge who allowed this is really going to pay the price if a parent of a child that gets molested by one of these guys is not a liberal pansy and take remedial action.

    1. Big Bear says:

      Long overdue.

  8. August says:

    You just committed a serious felony crime advocating the murder of a judge, but it won’t get you a lifetime sex offender registration mandate like people who pee behind a tree does….

    1. Dennis says:

      Who did? George Washington???

  9. Big Bear says:

    That would be a deterrent against more activist judges playing Lord God Almighty.

  10. Yirmin says:

    A bullet to the base of the skull will also keep the from freezing to death and also make the world a better place.

  11. A says:

    Why doesn’t the city council use zoning laws to keep these shelters away from the schools? I’m concerned about the homeless who aren’t even s3x offenders harassing the kids commuting to school.

  12. rex dart eskimo spy says:

    whats wrong with allowing the homeless and undesirables to die from exposure?

    1. The Sage Waitress says:

      Thomas Pauli: Pedophile Popsicle.

  13. Pilot.Dave says:

    If the ACLU really wanted to help the sex offenders in G.R. they would have spent less money opening a new shelter in one of the abandon buildings down Wealthy or Division away from the schools.

  14. conrad says:

    Pervs 1, Kids 0. Disgusting.

  15. Bill Huntsman says:

    Most of the people posting here are as clueless as they are devoid of facts.. Eventually, the inconvenient truths about the sex offender registry and the legal system which feeds it will find their way through even the thickest of skulls. Let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later so as to limit the unnecessary suffering of a great many people.. The purpose of the Constitution and of our representative form of government is to prevent a tyranny of the majority over even a most hated minority. This judge has ruled correctly and done his job.

    1. Marbran says:

      Bill, I agree.

      What most people fail to realize is that sex offenders, like all offenders, serve their time in jail, prison, and on supervised parole or probation. Yet only sex offenders are required to publicly register their crimes, very often for life. That is the same as the Puritan ‘Scarlet Letter’ from pre-colonial days, when just adulterers were branded the worst of the worst.

      What crime will be next for registering?

  16. oracle2world says:

    “To freeze to death on the street, that’s a horrible fate. No one deserves that.”

    Yes they do.

    There is no such thing as a “minor” sex crime. They are all heinous and leave an indelible memory.

  17. Dennis says:

    Who cares what a federal judge decided. The city and state should enforce their own laws and do the right thing which is to follow the will of the voters who placed the legislature in position for the best interest of the community. It does take some guts to try to change the laws from a distance, but how would that judge presume to enforce his or her own will on the people – does the judge think he or she is Obama, or something???

    1. Big Bear says:

      Exactly. Civil Disobedience. If it comes down to armed Americans forming militias to do what the government won’t then so be it. It is extremely unlikely that Judge Roly Poly will come down with his soft hands and college mouth and try to personally enforce the laws he enacts. Ditto for the ACLU lawyers. When faced with men with backbones, the stinking liberal will shake it’s pudgy fists in impotent rage.

  18. Bubba says:

    FACT: Sex Offenders are not more likely to re-offend. Sex offenders commit another crime, of any kind, at a average rate of just 13%, while those convicted of property theft reoffend (steal again) at an average of 75%. People convicted of drunk driving will reoffend at a rate of 51%, while a convicted murderer will reoffend at a rate of 41%. Ex-convicts with a non-sex offense charge are 87% more likely to commit a sex offense than a convicted sex offender in therapy is

    FACT: 86% of all sexual assault cases were committed by someone known to the victim. 93% of victims under the age of 17 were assaulted by family members, relatives, or family acquaintances

    FACT: Residency restrictions on Sex Offenders DO NOT MAKE COMMUNITIES SAFER!!! See above that 93% of assaults on children are by known persons. 60% of those assaults take place in the victims home. ONLY 11% of assaults took place at a school, park, filed, or playground. For children age 12 or younger, 84% of assaults took place at home.

    So unless you let sex offenders into your home, your children are more at risk from your family and friends.

    1. Marbran says:

      Truly heinous sexual predators, whether pedophiles or rapists, will find a way to re-offend if they are so inclined. Most do not. Yet all sex offenders are lumped into the same class of perpetrator, the worst of the worst.

      One common theme in sex offense cases is the guy who allows himself to be lured into a sexual situation by an underage female, only to end up getting nabbed when the hook-up falls apart, even many years after the event.

      It’s easy for anyone to say. “Shoulda kept it in your pants.” but when sex is an in-built, biological imperative, part of being human, and that imperative is criminalized, then of course your always going to find victims and perps.

  19. Jim says:

    The easy thing would be to hang all the pedafiles then there would be no worry as to where they live!!

    1. Marbran says:

      Should we extend that to drug dealers, murderers, arsonists, burglars, car-jackers, etc?

  20. Bippy Bellito says:

    Can’t wait to see what kind of pap, Chuckie Schumer’s Brother in Law hands down from his Fed. judgeship in N.J. Shiara Law?. Man-Boy Love? Who’s next from the Obama gang. Sandusky heading up Dep’t of Education?

  21. Charles says:

    these sex offenders need to be placed in a large area, like a compound, with large walls, oh wait there is already a place like that, its called prison, thats where these lowlifes belong, and if some moronic judge lets them out then they should be forced by ;law to be implanted with a gps chip, like an animal so they can be tracked 24/7

  22. Mom of 4 says:

    I agree that some people are wrongfully put on the registry. I had a friend who got drunk one night and exposed himself in a parking lot. He was married with 5 kids. He was put on the registry and it almost destroyed his marriage. After years of counseling, the marriage is still in tact. His 2 older kids want nothing to do with him. What he did was wrong and stupid, but he never should have been put on the sex offender list. Having said that, the vast majority of those put on the list are guilty of molesting children and should be kept away from schools. This man who died had a history of sex with pre-teens and had no business being near a school. We must protect our children, but we must also use wisdom and common sense. Check into the background of the person in question and find out what their crime was that put them on the registry.

    1. Marbran says:

      Mom of 4,

      Before SORNA, we had a mechanism in place within the judicial system. It was that the judges aware of the details of the case were allowed to sentence based upon all known evidence. With SORNA, judges no longer have a say in sex offender sentencing. All sex offenders are equally bad, or so the sentiment goes. What a joke.

  23. Marbran says:

    In Islam, having sex with children is a-okay! Muhammad ‘married’ Aisha when she was just 6 years old, and then consummated the marriage when Aisha was 9. Boys are considered ‘pearls’ and are deigned by Allah as open territory.

    I’d love endlessly to see some lib/progressive groups that partner with Islam actually challenge them on that element of the unfallabilty of Muhammad and Islam.

  24. Mary says:

    I understand that Judge Quist who ruled on the case has a history of having a soft spot for child molesters. why?

  25. Shana Rowan says:

    Just like offenders who have committed murder, physical assault, domestic abuse, and other violent crimes, SOs are allowed to have lives once they have served their time in prison. You may not like it, but that’s the way it is. Those convicted of sex crimes (which often have nothing to do with children) have one of the lowest recidivism rates of any felony, about 3.5% according to the Bureau of Justice and Statistics. The chances of your child being harmed by a former sex offender are less than your child dying in an airplane crash. According to the same BJS study, in fact, YOU are more likely to abuse your child than a convicted sex offender – 95% of children who are abused are victimized by someone they know and trust who is not on the registry, and 40% are abused by a family member or relative.

    Anyone who proposes killing people because of their past is no better than those they want to kill.

  26. Bob says:

    To those with pitchforks, may you face an accusation, without evidence, multiple life sentences, and a jury of your (hysterical) peers, accept your plea, then apply your own brand of justice to yourself. The majority of accused accept plea bargains because they cannot prove their innocence when they are not confronted with any evidence, and the prosecution accepts the plea’s for their conviction rate while hiding behind ‘protecting the victim’ from testifying, turning a blind eye to failing to prove their case with facts knowing the jury will be holding their torches and pitchforks. The tide is slowly turning from insanity to sanity.

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