By Meagan Flynn
On a sunny December day, Kelly Simon takes her father, a registered sex offender just released from prison, to visit Big Bass Resort. It's a sprawling apartment complex, complete with grassy courtyards and enough palm trees to resemble Orlando, and 57-year-old Roderick Dixon would like to live here.
He's visited at least a dozen complexes like this one that seemed feasible, places that were nowhere near a school or a playground or any children at all—“adult living,” most of the signs say. He wears his golden-brown argyle sweater with the cuffed white dress shirt underneath, the outfit Simon bought him on his first day out of prison. Then he puts on his best smile for the cheery apartment managers who haven't yet run a background check.
Once they do, this is what they'll find: In 1993,
was accused of sodomizing his four-year-old nephew. After pleading no contest,
he was only supposed to do five years probation, but one month later a judge
revoked it and ordered Dixon
serve the full 40-year sentence after a drug-related run-in with police. Dixon
and the alleged
victim say the crime never happened, and the Texas Southern University
innocence project has been pushing for his exoneration since 2004. The Harris
County District Attorney's Office's conviction integrity unit recently agreed
to investigate Dixon 's
case as a potential wrongful conviction. Dixon
Still, none of that changes the fact that apartment managers don't welcome sex offenders.