Collateral Damage in America's War on Sex Crimes

A Residence Ban Forced This Family into Homelessness for Almost Two Years

Legislators who advocate restrictions on where those on sex offender registries can live often admit that their real purpose is to get registrants out of town altogether. One city has come closer than any other to making permanent exile a reality: Lewisville, Texas.

Most cities and towns with residence bans prohibit registrants from being near “places where children gather”: parks, schools, and daycares. But in 2008, Lewisville passed a law that defined those places to include just about everything: parks, playgrounds, schools, swimming pools, recreational facilities, day cares, and video arcades. The town’s 1500-foot ban makes 99.75 percent of the city’s houses off limits to registrants and their families.

So imagine the dilemma facing Lewisville’s Aurelio Duarte, his wife Wynjean, and their two teen daughters. In 2006, Aurelio Duarte was convicted of online solicitation of a minor and served 3 years in prison. When he got out in June 2010, he returned to Lewisville to rejoin his family.

But the city’s residency ban meant that the family had to move when Aurelio came home. So the four of them got a one-room, 275-square-foot motel room on an interstate service road, one of the few places that wasn’t in a banned zone. (A swimming pool has since been built nearby, so it’s since become off limits.) They thought their stay would be temporary.

The Duartes wanted to stay in Lewisville–the daughters had grown up in the city’s public school system, and Wynjean worked between 60 and 70 hours a week at two jobs near the city.

So over the course of 18 months, they looked for a house to buy or an apartment to rent within the .25 percent of the city open to them. Miraculously, nine times they found houses for sale that they thought might not be in a no-go zone. But each time, when they contacted police to find out whether they had permission to make an offer, the police either turned them down or took so long to reply that the houses were sold to someone else in the meantime.

So they stayed in their tiny motel room. Brandi Duarte and her sister Savona shared a bed a few feet from their parents. “I hate it. It’s really embarrassing,” Brandi told a local news outlet in 2012. “I have to keep it a secret that I live here.”

Eventually, the family moved to a city 10 miles away, forcing Savona Duarte to change school’s and Wynjean to commute further to her jobs.

If there were evidence that zones banning America’s untouchables prevent sex crimes, you’d still have to explain why they justify the assault on the right to housing enshrined in the 1948 United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, to which the U.S. is signatory. That there’s a consensus among researchers that residence laws do nothing to make anyone safer makes them monstrous, an assault on basic standards of decency and a standing commentary on whether the U.S. is ready to fully join the community of civilized nations.

6 thoughts on “A Residence Ban Forced This Family into Homelessness for Almost Two Years

  1. Mary Helen Metts

    Our son had to experience the same humiliating and embarrassing rejections for ten years. I’m afraid the only way change can be accomplished is for the people behind these laws ito feel what we have endured to fully understand us. They are clueless as to who gets labeled and put on the registry. The drug addicts and murderers have it easier than we do. It’s a screwed up system for sure.

  2. PJ

    People are scared of what they don’t understand. And politicians know how to use fear to foster public support for their political careers. There is no evidence to show that residency restrictions prevent new sexual offenses after almost twenty years of tracking. So, what’s the motivation behind these draconian witch hunts?
    How is it “Okay” to victimize families and innocent children behind such ludicrous laws? Politicians could do just as much good for their careers if they educated the people and redirected resources ( and there are a lot being used to monitor registries and residency restrictions) for prevention.

  3. Jr

    We bought a house in Pflugerville Tx not knowing that 1 year prior they annexed that area and with a 2,000ft. restriction. It wasn’t till after the purchase was made did we find out this information and that we had to move. My wife was devastated and things had become a fog for me. We then moved to Hutto Tx with ZERO issue and made a final move to Round Rock Tx. When will people stop and think? Look past their noses? Stop buying into the bureaucratic BS that has them living under false safty, hopes and dreams? With the lowest rate of reoffending of most all crimes and most offenses being committed by friends or family members of the victims “NOT STRANGERS” yet we are hit the hardest out of all major crimes. I sit back and think to myself “if this helps parents take their minds off their kids and reality…keep letting your child indulge in Instagram, Snap chat, Facebook etc. and you too soon will feel the rath of these ridiculous rules and laws set forth by those who choose to scare citizens that don’t know and don’t think. Problem with our Nation these days is people choose to follow status quo and can’t think for themselves. People are unable to think outside the box UNTIL it’s to late and you to are in my position

  4. michealG

    So sad for the family,but the children,deprived of so many rights and privileges,the entire family suffers the punishment at times seems endless.Harm has been done to these innocent children by the laws that be,yet they stand by their father,live with him,the man who others see as a monster,he is on “the list”he must be horrible many would say.The children caught up in this madness they did nothing yet their punishment is excessive taking away their lives and whatever life they may of dreamed to have, their pain their hate will eat out their souls,if they let it.So many must live in misery,so many must endure the consequences of the reckless indifference ‘the list’ has on a family, the children don’t deserve this,I feel their pain to have to live in shame and humiliation I know how it can consume an entire family how it drives them down a dark path not wanting to live not wanting to die.I pray the Duarte children stay strong they are not alone although at times you feel the loneliness of being shunned being isolated and thrown into a harsh world,so sad..

  5. Tim M.

    There are no legitimate governments that have “s*x offender” residency restrictions. Everyone needs to realize that any person who supports such a thing is an enemy to all good Americans. They should be treated as enemies.


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