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CHILTON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -
Triumph Church on County Road 374 looks like many churches in Chilton County. It has a cross above the door, an inspirational message on the sign out front, but it has also become home to 36 sex offenders.
"I don't like them living that close to me because my wife works in the yard a lot and they walk up and down the road all the time," explained Gordon "Duck" Burkhalter.
Burkhalter says Triumph Church popped up a few years ago. He does not mind the ministry, but he does not think it needs to be in a group setting and he does not like their living conditions.
"They got 4, 5, 6 trailers with 3-4 people in each trailer as far as I know," said Burkhalter.
As more sex offenders started moving into the trailers behind Triumph Church, it caught the eye of Chilton County Chief Deputy District Attorney, CJ Robinson.
"When somebody is released from the Department of Corrections and they are a registered sex offender, the DA get an info packet from the department of corrections and it lists the address, names, and info about the offense," said Robinson.
Since August 2010:
36 sex offenders have listed Triumph Church as their address once they got out of prison.
29 of them committed their crime against children; the youngest victim was 4 years old.
13 cases involved some form of child molestation.
Another concerning stat for Robinson, these convicted criminals don't appear to have any ties to Chilton County. "Only one committed their crime in Chilton county," said Robinson, "That offense was a misdemeanor, it was a non-jail sentence, it was a probationary sentence."
"It's a scary thought," said State Representative Kurt Wallace, "I wouldn't have a problem with us taking care of our own but don't send me your problem children."
Wallace isn't happy these sex offenders are moving into his district. He has pre-filed House Bill 85 for the 2013 legislation session. The bill states two sex offenders must live 500 feet apart from each other; they can't live under the same roof unless they are related or in a state-approved facility.
At this time there is no treatment center for sex offenders and if Wallace's bill passes it could severely limit where sex offenders can live.
Wallace said, "The biggest concern that people have is where are they gonna go? I don't know. I would suggest they go back to their families and I know where I don't want them to go. I don't want them in my neighborhood."
Ricky Martin who runs Triumph Church declined to talk to Fox 6 News on camera. However, last year he told our sister station in Montgomery, WSFA, that all of the sex offenders who have come through his church have left as success stories.
Martin confirmed to Fox 6 News he's against Wallace's bill and he believes his ministry is helping. One sex offender agrees.
"He has helped us out," said Selid Holt. Holt was convicted of first degree sexual abuse of a 9-year-old female. He moved to Triumph Church from Barbour County.
Robinson confirms the sex offenders like Holt, who have moved to Triumph Church, have not committed another sex crime that he's prosecuted. Still he thinks in this case it's better to be proactive than reactive.
"If we wait until there is a child that has been victimized we've waited too late," said Robinson.