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SEX OFFENDERS: Town torn over molester's suicide

Neighborhood 'Child Rapist' Signs Blamed For Sex Offender's Suicide: Authors Of Signs Could Face Jail Over Flyers

Residents in a Ocala neighborhood could face charges after a convicted sex offender apparently committed suicide in despair over signs labeling him a "child rapist" posted in his neighborhood, according to Local 6 News.

Bright yellow, laminated signs displaying Claxton's picture, date of birth, address and the words "child rapist" hanging on power poles in his neighborhood. A county commissioner proposed posting such information in the community but Sheriff Ed Dean rejected the idea.

Clovis Ivan Claxton, 38, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a child in Washington in 1991, had lived at 3230 SE. 45 Street in Ocala for about two years.

Tuesday, Claxton noticed bright yellow, laminated signs displaying his picture, date of birth, address and the words "child rapist" hanging on power poles in his neighborhood. A county commissioner proposed posting such information in the community but Sheriff Ed Dean rejected the idea.

After seeing the signs, Claxton called the sheriff's office and said that he felt "extremely scared and feels that people in the neighborhood are now out to possibly hurt him."

"Once he made these type statements our deputies took this man into custody under the Baker Act law and transported him to a local mental health facility for evaluation," Marion County Sheriff's Capt. Denis Strow said. "He was later released."

Tuesday morning, Claxton's parents found him dead of an apparent overdose with one of the child rapist flyers by his side.

After seeing the signs, convicted sex offender Clovis Claxton called the sheriff's office and said that he felt "extremely scared and feels that people in the neighborhood are now out to possibly hurt him."

Jane Claxton blames County Commissioner Randy Harris, who proposed the flyers, for her son's death, according to a report.

"Just don't get on the bandwagon," she said. "There's going to be other (deaths) if Randy Harris has his way. He hasn't been in trouble for 18 years, and he's branded for life."

Harris said sex offenders need to take responsibility for their actions.

"I don't blame his death to the signs," he said, adding he was undeterred in his quest to alert people to sex offenders living in their neighborhoods.

Dean said it is an example that police work should be left to authorities.

"We need to keep calm, do the right thing," Dean said. "Not go overboard with it. Protect our children. Use all of the resources we can but not stir a community up to a frenzy."

Claxton's death follows the high-profile arrests of sex offenders in the separate killings of two Florida girls less than seven weeks apart. State lawmakers have responded by passing a bill to require lifetime supervision of some child sex offenders.

State law allows for flyers to be printed and distributed, Local 6 News reported. But, altering the signs or flyers is against the law.

Claxton's address had been added to the top of the flyer along with the words "child rapist."

"It is a violation of the law," Strow said. "And should we find who perpretrated it, I'm sure it is a case that would be reviewed by the state's attorney office to see if they wish to pursue it."

The person responsible for the flyers faces up to 1 year in jail.

The sheriff's office is investigating and an autopsy was scheduled for Friday.

Marion County is located northwest of Orlando and has more than 600 registered sex offenders. ...more... by


SEX OFFENDERS: Town torn over molester's suicide
A sex offender's suicide, apparently triggered by damning fliers posted in his neighborhood, breeds deeply mixed feelings in Ocala -- and a slight hint of remorse.

4-23-2005 Florida:
OCALA - The molester is dead and the community is divided -- over whether their condemnation killed a man that many had wished would vanish anyway.

At dawn Thursday, as the sun spilled through this woodsy Central Florida city, Chuck Claxton awoke to find his son, Clovis, 38, dead of an apparent overdose. At his son's side lay one of the lime green fliers that had been dropped into neighbors' mailboxes and pinned to nearby trees, listing Clovis Claxton as a convicted sexual offender, highlighting his address and bearing, in oversize type, the words ``Child Rapist.''

Claxton took his life amid the horror and heartsickness left by the murders of Jessica Lunsford and Sarah Lunde, who died at the hands of sexual offenders. He died as the Florida Legislature was writing new laws to mandate that sexual predators serve longer sentences -- or be tracked electronically upon release.

His death raises the troubling issue of how far communities armed with sex-offender registries should go to protect their own.

Several people living near the Claxton home said they welcomed the fliers. While saddened by Clovis Claxton's death, some, like Daniel Bryan, a father of two, were quietly relieved that the question of his presence had been erased, albeit grimly.

Other sentiments raged far stronger. ''I think those people should be shot, those perverts,'' said Robert Parlin. ``There should be signs, definitely, all over.''

And still others worried that the extent of Claxton's crime had not been fully explained.


Claxton was developmentally disabled and wheelchair-bound after being struck in childhood by meningitis and encephalitis. His parents cared for him, and he lived in an apartment adjoining their neatly kept house in a forested enclave of southern Ocala.

In 1991, when his family was living in Washington state, Claxton was charged with first-degree child molestation over an incident involving a caregiver's 9-year-old daughter. He was 24 at the time but, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office, had the mental capacity of a 10- or 12-year-old. He served 27 months in prison.

When his family moved to Florida in 2000, Claxton was listed as a sexual offender on the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website. For reasons still unclear, the FDLE website also indicated that Claxton was charged with the rape of a child, though he had not been. Sheriff's deputies checked in on Claxton and did not consider him a threat but took him into custody at least five times for threatening suicide.

After the fliers began appearing this week, a distraught Claxton called up sheriff's deputies saying he feared for his life and thought his neighbors were out to hurt him. Agonizing, he said he wanted to kill himself.

He was taken for an overnight psychiatric assessment on Tuesday, but released the next day.

In Ocala, the furor over both the Lunsford and Lunde deaths is closely, rawly felt. The families of both young victims live within an hour's drive. In January, Adam Kirkirt, 11, who is from Marion County, was kidnapped by a sexual offender, though he was found later in Georgia, unharmed.

Still, Claxton's suicide bred deeply mixed feelings and some soul searching among residents here.


Some said that Claxton had served his time and posed no threat. Some opposed the idea of signs, saying it would devalue their real estate and drum up fear.

Others likened the current mood of the town to a witch hunt. And one distraught, close friend of the Claxtons, who did not want his name used, said he was enraged to find the flier in his mailbox. Clovis Claxton was simple and nice, he said, and sometimes mowed his lawn.

''We cannot cast people out,'' the man said, fighting tears.

The town is also fiercely debating how to manage its sexual offenders. Early this week, just before the Claxton fliers went up, Randy Harris, a county commissioner, urged that warning signs be posted in neighborhoods where convicted offenders live.

''I take no pleasure in hearing the report of anyone's death, even in this particular case,'' Harris said of Claxton's suicide. ``But I don't think we can go too far in providing information.''

Harris has found his strongest opponent in Marion County Sheriff Ed Dean, who believes warning signs would foster fear and violence. According to Dean, the county's 530-odd sexual predators are accounted for and have been visited by sheriff's deputies. Dean also said he plans to increase the frequency of such visits and notify people living within a mile of predators.

''I don't see what purpose signs would do, other than have an unintended consequence like this,'' said Dean. ``It creates hysteria.''

On Friday, two bouquets with sympathy cards were placed outside the Claxton home, which sits on a large lot decorated by bird feeders and brightly colored potted plants. A large dream catcher hung on Claxton's door, and a small dog barked from inside. His parents did not answer the door or return phone calls.


The county sheriff's office is investigating the distribution and posting of the fliers. They were downloaded from the FDLE website, which is legal, but the addition of the words ''child rapist'' constitutes tampering, according to sheriff spokesman Sue Livoti, and it is a misdemeanor.

From Florida Statutes: 775.21(10)(c): "Any person who misuses public records information relating to a sexual predator, as defined in this section, or a sexual offender, as defined in s. 943.0435 or s. 944.607, to secure a payment from such a predator or offender; who knowingly distributes or publishes false information relating to such a predator or offender which the person misrepresents as being public records information; or who materially alters public records information with the intent to misrepresent the information, including documents, summaries of public records information provided by law enforcement agencies, or public records information displayed by law enforcement agencies on websites or provided through other means of communication, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083."

Harris, for his part, said he would only strengthen his push to have warning signs posted in neighborhoods where sexual offenders lived.

''Real simple. There's been a suicide that occurred when we had 530 sex offenders in Marion County,'' said Harris. ``There are still 529.''

1 comment:

Unforgiven said...

How about the people that are tricked by the the prosecutors office. Telling you if you accept a withhold of adjudication even if you are not guilty of the crime and there is no evidence to link you to the crime that they are allegedly saying you did. And you spend 1 year waiting for trial on what somebody else says and offering you threw this time of incarceration from 45 yrs in prison and after a month offer you 12 years and threaten you that if you dont take it they will give you much more and still you tell them you want to take it to trial because you are not guilty. A couple of months pass by and offer you 5 years and you say no! And at last they say accept a plea of withhold of adjudication and you won`t be guilty of any crime and you will go be with your family. But once you sign on the dotted line you lose because you can`t take your plea back. I know because thats what happen in my case.So for all you air heads that beleave in the justice system pray to God that your son,brother,uncle,father,and even your dauthers that they don`t get caught up in this currupt system. Specialy here in florida! Because you will be guilty before you are proven innocent.