Residents along 21st A venue got some startling news Wednesday when they learned they share the neighborhood with a convicted sexual offender.
Detectives with the Vero Beach Police Department pinned up notices and knocked on doors to alert residents that one of their neighbors was charged in the late 1980s with committing lewd and lascivious acts upon a child.
Brenda K. Williams Franks, 1853½ 21st Ave., is the second convicted sex offender city residents have been alerted to since the Public Safety Information Act was passed last October. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
A public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Vero Beach City Hall to discuss the law and the local Police Department’s policy on notification. Also, a computer list of every sexual offender or ·predator released into the county will be available to residents in the lobby of the Vero Beach Police Department later this month.
The law forces agencies to notify neighbors when a sexual predator moves in nearby.
Sexual offenders, those convicted of less serious sexual crimes, also can be subject to the law if local law-enforcement agencies decide their convictions warrant public notification. A majority of the 15 sexual offenders living in Vero Beach will be advertised at the discretion of the Police Department.
Williams was an employee of a Stuart Montessori school, where accusations of child sexual abuse were lodged against her, the school’s administrator and his wife in 1986 and 1987. She se_rved part of a IO-year sentence and was released from jail in 1993.
“This was a tough case to prove, and a lot of people were really upset about this one,” said Detective Bob Green, making his rounds among the neighborhood’s old grove-style homes. Two schools, St. Helen School and Miss Ellie’s Child Care and Preschool, flank the neighborhood.
“We should be concerned, but we should not panic,” Touchberry said. He repeated the words several times Wednesday, emphasizing to residents that the offender has lived in their community without incident “for a while.” According to the state’s offender hot line, Franks moved into the area Oct. 2, 1997.