'Disgusted by the dishonesty': Tenino residents rally to stop facility from housing sex offenders

Residents are pushing back against a facility meant, to house sex offenders from McNeil Island, from coming into their neighborhood.

Residents say there has been very little outreach regarding a less restrictive alternative community housing facility, or LRA.

Sarah Fox, one of dozens of angry residents says she's aware County Council started fighting against a proposed idea in April 2022.

She says they were notified January 11 this would be happening with the first resident scheduled to move on Feb. 1.

"I am disgusted by the dishonesty and the deceit with this for profit company moving in my neighborhood," Fox said.

Mayor of Tenino, Wayne Fournier, said local officials were not notified.

"How the location was chosen is absolutely beyond me because it's a horrible choice in the location," Fournier said.

He said there's a fair play doctrine that comes into play where offenders on McNeil Island are released to communities all over the state, as allowed by judges.

"I understand they exist, but there needs to be a better process that ensures this is done safely and this is done responsibly, and clearly that that is not the case right now," Fournier said.

Kendahal Tuttle is both fearful and concerned, she’s a mom to four children between two and 10-year-old and lives half a mile from the proposed site in the middle of a rural neighborhood.

"My biggest concern is the fact that my children play outside all day every day," Tuttle said. Her biggest issue, "the facility has no fences that will keep them in they're allowed to wander about the property."

She says there's also a playground, a ski park and lake all within close proximity.

"They're the worst of the worst that Washington has, these people aren't just sexual offenders, they also have mental abnormalities," Tuttle said.

"It's not a matter of if they re-offend it's a matter of when they're going to re-offend," Fox said.

Fox 13 traveled to the proposed property and saw the concerns residents voiced.

The facility is required to have surveillance cameras and secure fencing but only saw cattle fencing surrounding it.

Another issue parents and officials have, about 35 children live a mile from the LRA and a bus stop is right in front it.

Supreme Living, the company who owns the facility, held a town hall where residents questioned how and why this was possible.

"She said it's just a location she found available," Tuttle said. "We said there's a lot of better locations and she said 'Well, we paid $1.1 million for this, it's good enough. The most alarming part was the fact that she had no answer. This is her business, she is the CEO, and she had no information about what her plan was."

Fox 13 reached out to CEO, Angela Rinaldo, who said she could not comment on the ongoing concerns and was not at liberty to discuss the facility or when it plans to open. While she denied interviewing Thursday she said she would be able to provide more details in the coming days or weeks.

Kerri Jeter, a mother of five between four and 23-year-old started a petition during MLK weekend, it now has over 2600 signatures.

She along with dozens of other Tenino residents marched into Governor Inslee's office hoping he’ll put an end to it.

"Somebody needs to be accountable," Jeter said. "Lawmakers really need to take into consideration the public safety over anything when they're making these law changes for sexually violent predators."

While they did not speak directly with Governor Inslee his office sent Fox 13 a statement saying, "We share a desire to keep communities safe, and for agencies to comply with court orders for placing these individuals as responsibly as possible and in accordance with the statutes passed by the Legislature."

"We do not want these sexually violent predators in our rural area, we do not have the safety measures for that," Fox said.

"I think we're going to be able to stop this place. Because it was very poorly planned," Fournier said.

The Mayor of Tenino says a cease and desist letter was sent to Supreme Living saying they could now house anyone until health concerns were addressed including; food permits and septic tank issues.

Fournier says the LRA is a three-bedroom home meant to house five individuals plus monitors, which is not meant to withstand the use.

Fox 13 reached out to the Department of Health to find out if they were in charge of their license; they said no and directed us to the Department of Social and Health Services.

"The licensing questions are really interesting, according to the county commissioners and their purview over the land use, because it's under six people in this residence, there's no real zoning or permitting requirements for it," Fournier explained.

However, the LRA is on hold – for now.

"This is a huge money issue, you may be saving the state money, but you're costing the neighborhood huge money and huge safety concerns," Fox said.

Documents obtained by Fox 13 show Supreme Living could get up to $38,513 per resident from DSHS to cover rent, utilities, administrative fees, staff payments, chaperon payments, vehicle use fees plus a mileage fee allocation, food and supplies plus a special additional payment allocation. For five residents the maximum monthly payment for five residents could be $107,858.

FOX 13 reached out to DSHS, who has not responded as of posting this article; however, the Department of Corrections did.

Via email, DOC said they expressed their concerns verbally to the property owner during their process of investigation.

"DOC did not have any major concerns (the bus stop and neighboring property being minor concerns) and the recommended conditions were adopted.  If there are major concerns with any conditions, DOC will testify in the court hearing to address them prior to the order being entered."

The DOC pointed out the property owner is only required to address concerns or changes recommended if the court compels them to, they cannot require the property owner to do so.

Additionally, all sexually violent predator LRA's are supervised by DOC Correction Specialists and individuals are required to wear ankle monitors 24/7. Specialists are on "standby" 24/7 as well and are required to respond to concerns 24/7 including any incidental, accidental, or intentional GPS tampering, as well as malfunction, interference, and/or failure of the GPS unit. 

This is a developing story.