Another Sex Offender Found Living Adjacent To School - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/12/07-Kilgore

Another Sex Offender Found Living Adjacent To School

KLTV uncovers another sex offender living right next door to a school.  He was convicted of indecency with a child, and there's nothing a school or a city can do.

Kilgore Heights Elementary School has children in pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten, and it came as a surprise to a neighbor -- also a parent -- that offenders can live so close.  

"They shouldn't allow it.  Nobody should allow it, really," says Melissa Hughes, who has young children.

Now in Kilgore, we find a man who victimized a child living in an apartment right next to the school.  Robert Garza is 74 years old.  Back in 1991, when he was nearly 60, he was convicted of indecency/sexual contact of a 10-year-old girl.  He was given 10 years probation.

Hughes and her kids live right across the street.

"[My kids are] sometimes in the front yard, sometimes in the back yard, and I'm in the house.  I just don't know.  I'll be more cautious now, watch them more," she says.

She says she doesn't know Robert Garza, but she believes he shouldn't be a moment's walk from the campus.

"I have a ten-year-old daughter myself, and that's messed up.  He shouldn't be anywhere [nearby]." she says. 

Despite what a lot of people think, once a sex offender has served their probation or parole, they are free to live wherever they want -- even right next door to a school.  

Kilgore City Councilman Don Lawler says he agrees that next door is too close, but placing limits on where sex offenders can live?  He says he'd support it if the public does, but believes it could build a false sense of security.

"You still have a child who could be abused by walking to school." he says.

"Just setting a footage [away from campus] standard isn't the answer to the problem. It's going to take the parent to take and inform their child, and interact with their children," he says.

Two other sex offenders live close to Kilgore Heights Elementary.  All of them, again, have served their time and are only required to register with police.

Hughes says now she's going to learn more about who her neighbors are.

"I'm going to go look it up," she says.

We contacted Kilgore ISD for comment today, but the superintendent did not return our phone calls.

You can check with the Department of Public Safety and other websites to locate sex offenders near you.

Morgan Palmer, Reporting morganpalmer@kltv.com

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