I-team: Bus Stop Predators - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

I-team: Bus Stop Predators

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

There is a hidden danger that could be lurking on the streets some children walk every day.

With thousands of sex offenders registered in East Baton Rouge Parish, you can be almost certain some of them live along their paths to and from school bus stops.

On a typical school morning before day breaks, hundreds of children are scattered throughout East Baton Rouge Parish waiting on a school bus. Many of them must walk a block or two to get to their bus stops. They appear to be comfortable near their home turf, but what they don't know could put them in danger.

According to the Louisiana State Police website, there are thousands of sex offenders living in East Baton Rouge Parish. There is a good chance some children walk by the homes of pedophiles every day.

"I never thought about it. I honestly never thought about it," Tyrone Thibodeaux said.

"Oh, and do they live close to here," Wendy Raudales asked.

Louisiana law requires that sex offenders register their addresses with law enforcement and notify every residence and school within three-tenths of a mile through postal mail. Red, numbered balloons on the state police website represent where the offenders reportedly live.

The 9News I-Team requested a list of every public school bus stop in East Baton Rouge Parish. There are thousands. Our team zeroed in on more than three hundred and chose the 30 locations with the largest population of children.

We then went to the Louisiana State Police website, plugged in those addresses, and tracked sex offenders living within a half mile radius of those bus stops.

The I-Team visited with parents at four of those locations. The first stop we went to was at the intersection of Old Hammond Highway and King Richard. Tyrone Thibodeaux's two children catch the bus there.

"This pin illustrates where you are. These are the numbers of sex offenders who live in a half mile from your child's bus stop. What do you think of that?" reporter Cheryl Mercedes asked.

"Wow. I don't know," Thibodeaux responded.

There are six registered offenders living near his children's school bus stop. Four of them are charged with offenses involving children.

"One of these guy's offenses is molestation of a juvenile," Mercedes said.

"Wow," Thibodeaux responded.

It may not have been at the front of his mind, but the I-Team noticed Thibodeaux watched through the window and from the front door of his apartment as his children waited at the curb.

"We keep a pretty good watch of our children," Thibodeaux said.

Just around the corner, a bigger group of kids waited on a school bus. According to EBR school bus stop records, 38 students are assigned to that location.

Grandmother Shirley Reeder, stood guard with other parents. Some of them watch from their cars.

"Within a half mile of where we are standing right now, which is your child's bus stop, there are this many sex offenders living nearby," Mercedes pointed out.

"Whoa, Lordy! Sex offenders? Oh, Jesus what am I going to do about that?" Reeder asked.

There is not much Reeder can do. The law states sex offenders have the right to live where they choose as long as they report it.

Wendy Raudales, a mother of two,  was shocked when she learned there were several sex offenders living near her children's school bus stop.

"This is really bad and I didn't know," Raudales said.

Raudales said after seeing that some of the sex offenders who live near her home are pedophiles, she is going to keep a closer watch of her children.

"I didn't know any of that, any of that. But now I will pay better attention to keep them safe," Raudales said.

The final bus stop we visited was at the intersection of Stafford and Kathleen Drive. The I-Team noticed several parents at that bus stop watching closely as children played chase near the corner.

"There's usually three, four, five, here watching out for the kids," Jason Shackelford said.

There are just as many sex offenders in the area.

Parents Jason Shackelford and Carrie Delafuente said they did not realize they lived near their children's school bus stop.

"It doesn't give me a good feeling, especially having them this close to the bus stop," Shackelford said.

Delafuente said she randomly checks the sex offender registry and has shared that information with her children.

"They tend to be in the neighborhood by themselves, and I say if you happen to see this person who talks to you in this way don't talk to them," Delafuente said.

Licensed Therapist Amanda Chapoton, who works directly with sex offenders and victims of sex offenses, said the people she treats have been charged with a range of offenses, everything from inappropriate behavior with a juvenile to pedophiles.

"In our practice, what we've seen is one percent or less of the men we are treating or working with are on probation or parole, actually would have the diagnosis of pedophilia," Chapoton said.

Most of them, Chapoton said, are in prison. That is why she said it is important for the public to take a look close look at the offenders' criminal charge.

"I like to encourage people not to live in this bubble of fear, but educate yourself so you know when you need to be worried or what precautions you may need to take," Chapoton said.

Parents the I-Team spoke with said now that they know where to find the details, they plan to look at them more closely.

"This just makes you be more aware of your surroundings. I'm sure some will say they need to be down the street or all somewhere else, but they need to live somewhere," Shackelford said.

If you want to track how many sex offenders live near you, just go to the Louisiana State Police website at www.lsp.org and click on the link to Search for Sex Offenders.

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