Mentally Disabled Mingle with Sex Offenders in Pennsylvania Boarding House

In Pennsylvania, Personal Care Homes are residences which provide general care for people who may need living assistance, but not medical care. They are primarily privately owned, but licensed and inspected by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

Neighbors of the Green Acres Personal Care Home in Rossiter, Pennsylvania were shocked to learn that in addition to the mentally handicapped residents, there have been at least five convicted sex offenders–who are not mentally disabled–living in the home. In one case, it was discovered that a sex offender was sharing a room with a mildly retarded woman. These sex offenders are identified on the Megan’s Law web site as committing crimes of either involuntary deviate sexual intercourse or indecent assault.

In Pennsylvania, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse is defined as:

A person commits a felony of the first degree when the person engages in deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant:

  1. By forcible compulsion;
  2. By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution;
  3. Who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring;
  4. Where the person has substantially impaired the complainant’s power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants, or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance;
  5. Who suffers from a mental disability which renders him or her incapable of consent;
  6. Who is less than 13 years of age; or
  7. Who is less than 16 years of age and the person is four or more years older than the complainant and the complainant and person are not married to each other.

Indecent assault is defined according to Pennsylvania law in this way:

If the offense is a misdemeanor of the first degree or greater; A person who has indecent contact with the complainant or causes the complainant to have indecent contact with the person.

So is this ‘halfway house meets assisted living’ approach legal? Representatives of the state say they are aware of the situation and there is no law against it. They say they can not discriminate against the sex offenders if they are not posing a threat to others. State workers have, however, relocated some of the sex offenders because this particular home had such an unusually high number of them.

When asked why there are sex offenders at the facility in the first place, the owner of Green Acres said that it’s his job to “make sure they don’t go after somebody’s kid”. That’s a fairly odd answer since Personal Care Homes are merely boarding houses, not locked facilities. Personal Care Homes were never designed to monitor criminals. The owner may think of himself as a warden of sorts but he is not a police officer, probation officer or guard. Most disturbing is that these sex offenders would not even have to leave their home, or in at least one case their room, to sexually assault again.

None of the offenders living at the boarding house are recent offenders. Some have offenses dating back to the mid-1980′s, and the most recent resident sex offender arrest was in 2000. They currently have one resident who is a repeat offender, but with the most recent arrest being in 1985. It is unclear whether or not any of the sexual assaults were against children, because Pennsylvania law does not require Megan’s Law website to indicate whether the victims were minors for offenders convicted before November 30, 2006.

It is no surprise that the people living close to the Green Acres care facility want all of the sex offenders out. Neighbors say they now fear for the safety of their children and grandchildren who live and play in the neighborhood. They are gathering names on a petition asking that the state get the sex offenders out of their neighborhood.

In the meantime the home has reportedly taken in two more convicted sex offenders.