Hardly a week goes by without multiple stories ... detailing the arrests, court proceedings, convictions or sentencings of individuals involved in sex crimes against children or young teens. It’s a disturbing trend that underscores the ever-present dangers that exist where we may least expect them.
But one story that emerged last week contained a troubling twist. The EconoLodge motel on the city’s south side near the Interstate 70/U.S. 41 interchange was home to more than a dozen registered sex offenders. One of them is alleged to have grabbed a 5-year-old girl who was playing in the area and forced her into his room.
The girl’s adult family members, who were living at the motel, were alerted by another child and intervened. Police were called and the man, Timothy R. Blazier, 49, was arrested and has been charged with several felony sex crimes, including child molesting and attempted rape.
According to the sex offender registry, there are approximately 200 registered sex offenders in Vigo County. But they tend to be scattered throughout the county. We could find no location similar to the EconoLodge where so many of the offenders were clustered in one place, an establishment that was also open to providing either overnight or extended-stay rooms to the general public, including families with children.
What’s more, the Indiana Department of Correction had an agreement with the motel to pay the short-term lodging costs for several offenders who were recently released from prison and in the process of re-entering society.
As it turns out, Blazier was not among the EconoLodge residents receiving financial assistance for his lodging from the DOC. Still, the scope of the situation demands attention from both the public and private sector officials and the agencies involved.
It is not unreasonable to insist that aggressive consideration to public safety be a factor when allowing registered sex offenders to live in lodging establishments that are open to the public.