On January 31, 2020, a Kane County judge denied a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the City of Aurora for ordering a group of 19 register child sexual offenders residing at Wayside Cross Ministries to vacate the property.
In 2019, the group had filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Aurora (later refiled in state court) for trying to force the group to vacate their residence—less than 500 feet from a public park. The group argued the city violated their right to freedom of speech and the freedom of religion by enforcing an Illinois state law restricting residency requirements for child sex offenders. Wayside offers various religious-based programs for former criminal offenders, at-risk youth, and people struggling with homelessness, and drug and alcohol additions.
According to the group’s complaint, the city issued a notice to vacate Wayside Cross because the property was within 500 feet of a McCarthy Park—located in Aurora’s downtown area. Under the Illinois Criminal Code, a registered child sex offender may not reside within 500 feet of a “playground, child care institution, day care center, part day child care facility, day care home, group day care home, or a facility providing programs or services exclusively directed toward persons under 18 years of age.” Failure to comply is a felony offense.
Historically, the park was never used as a playground and the city allowed registered child sex offenders to live at Wayside Cross for years. The city only recently installed rocking horses designed for children, which the Wayside Cross residents contend is 700 feet from the property. The city responded, however, that because the rocking horses are in the park, which is within 500 feet of the property, the group at Wayside Cross does not comply with the residency requirements under state law.
The Chicago Tribune reportedin early February that the Office of the Kane County State’s Attorney, Wayside Cross, and the group of offenders are working together to find new living accommodations and jobs for the offenders ordered to vacate.
Post Authored by Michael Halpin & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink