Without residency ordinance, convicted sex offender placed one block from West Bend high schools
A convicted sex offender will live just one block from the West Bend High School complex. Police announced the state is placing 29-year-old Justin Rathke starting Monday in his father's apartment at 763 S. River Road, which is just several hundred feet from the schools.
Rathke was convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a child in 2008.
\"It's unsettling to realize that,\" neighbor Cher Birno said Friday. \"I know they need a place to stay, but find somewhere else.\"
But people in West Bend don't have much of a choice. The state leaves sex offender residency restrictions up to each municipality and, as it turns out, West Bend doesn't have any.
\"Maybe we can tighten that up a little bit,\" district four alderman Randy Koehler said.
Koehler lives about a half-mile from Rathke's new home. The alderman is glad police and detectives will have Rathke on constant surveillance, including GPS monitoring and 42 requirements like no unsupervised contact with minors. He also cannot set foot on school property or leave his house before 8 a.m. or after 1:45 p.m.
\"I have the utmost faith in [the West Bend Police],\" Koehler said. \"But, it's the one-hour span where he may not be supervised that I'm worried about.\"
In other southeastern Wisconsin cities, like Waukesha, news of an offender placed on the east side this week worried some. Police there announced 48-year-old Jessie Vasquez will be placed in a home at 1100 E. Main street.
\"You can't keep them out of your city, you can't keep them out of your town, you can't keep them out of your village,\" mayor Shawn Reilly said. Reilly adds notifying the public of sex offender placement has only been around about eight years, but admits offenders have always lived in our communities. He says open communication with the public is key.
But unlike West Bend, Waukesha has strict rules preventing sexual offenders from living within 750 feet of places like schools or playgrounds. Farther east, the City of West Allis sets its regulations at 1500 feet.
\"West Allis is roughly 12-square miles,\" Sensitive Crimes Detective Lieutenant Jennifer Johnson said. \"You have a park, a school, a church on almost every corner.\"
Back in West Bend, further restrictions prevent Rathke from visiting parks, playgrounds, campgrounds and more. Police say they will keep a constant watch on him, adding they'll make at least one stop a day at his home. But many people feel they're still stuck with an offender too close for comfort.
\"You just don't know in this day and age,\" koehler said. \"I just hate to put that type of person in this location.\"
CBS-58 spoke with West Bend Schools Superintendent Ted Neitzke Friday afternoon. He says police notified him as soon as they found out from the state, which was Thursday. Neitzke sent out letters to all parents, but says the district will make sure to keep a close watch on Rathke.
Alderman Koehler says he'll approach other council members about drafting sex offender ordinances soon.