I usually don’t “post” articles, especially if they are out-of- state issues or stories (unless there is a link to a
But in the last week there have been two article’s surrounding
Florida’s and the late Reverend
Richard “Dick” Witherow and this second article is just wonderful, so I’m
posting this out-of-state article. Miracle
For those of you who do check the books and studies page , Reverend Witherow wrote the 2009 book, The Modern Day Leper. His work and
previously featured in articles over the last 5 years. Miracle
Here is the newest and best article and at the bottom of the post you’ll find the July 30 article about this community.
Sex offenders, Pahokee congregation forge unlikely bond, by Ben Wolford August 1, 2013
PAHOKEE — The pianist at
was as nervous as
he'd ever been before a performance. First
Music comes naturally to Chad Stoffel. So he wasn't worried what they would think of his playing. He was worried what they thought of him.
"Do they know about my past?" Had they seen the newspapers? The ones that showed his face and the words sex offender?
This was February 2012. For about seven months, Stoffel had been living 2 miles outside of town in a secluded neighborhood called
He was one of about 85 sex offenders who had quietly settled there under court
order after finishing their prison sentences. It was a lonely exile but
preferable to sleeping under bridges like so many other sex offenders around
the state. Miracle Village
Now he was standing at the front of the congregation — on Ash Wednesday, no less — flanked by two other
were going to accompany him on the hymns. Miracle
Stoffel, 37, wanted to show the congregation that he was more than a criminal. He wore nice slacks and a dress shirt and tried to be, in his words, "perfect." Still, even Pastor Patti Aupperlee, who had invited the men to the service, couldn't reassure them.
"I don't know what's going to happen," she said.
Just before 7 p.m., a woman in her late 50s found her usual place seven rows back on the right. Lynda Moss, the church treasurer, had attended First United Methodist since she was little. She had harbored an aversion to sex offenders almost as long. It was the reason that she had once stormed into the pastor's office to tell her: "Those people will never change."
No one that day expected who would end up changing.
, state law
forbids sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, park,
designated bus stop, day care center or playground. Some local laws push the
buffer to nearly half a mile. Florida
Witherow saw the consequences of these regulations.
The town of
San Antonio, north of , virtually banned sex offenders two
years ago. In Tampa ,
a few dozen lived for years under the Julia Tuttle Causeway. The Bradford
County Sheriff's Office stakes big red warning signs in front of sex offenders'
Witherow wanted a place for the men — a mix of sexual offenders and more serious sexual predators — where they wouldn't bother too many other people. In the middle of thousands of acres of bushy sugarcane, just east of Pahokee, he found
, a collection of squat yellow
duplexes that had been built as a company town for sugar workers. He rented
dozens of properties, and the landlord evicted several families with children.
Witherow called it Pelican Lake . Miracle