OVER THE RHINE, OH (FOX19) - A month ago, a lot of people in and around the Tri-state had never heard of the Pogue Center.
But the halfway house has been at the center of controversy since it was learned that Anthony Kirkland walked away from the facility eight days before he admits killing 13 year old Esme Kenney.
Then it was learned that Marion "Timmy" Parker also walked away from the Pogue Center back in January before allegedly killing Shawn Davis of Covington, and burning his body under a bridge in Campbell County. Parker is also facing charges for murdering his cellmate in the Kenton County Jail.
People who live near the halfway house say it's too dangerous for their neighborhood, and they're taking that message to the street.
Dozens of people attended a protested Wednesday night, and those people want the Pogue Center closed, saying their safety is at risk.
"I think that it says a lot when you have this many people show up in Over the Rhine and take a stance," said event organizer John Donaldson.
This demonstration focused on the Pogue Center, which residents say contains the largest concentration of sex offenders in the county and one of the largest in the state.
"Over the Rhine has a bad image, and what people don't understand is that over the years, we have become a dumping ground for the state for everything form sex offenders to child molesters to straight violent offenders and the concentrate in Over the Rhine because of all the social service networks that we have here and the neighbors are fed up with it," said Donaldson.
Neighbors say time and time again, the Pogue Center's shown negligence and total disregard for the community.
But for Derek Logue, that's a statement that's just not true.
"I'm down here in support of the Pogue Rehabilitation Center," said Logue. "I'm a part of an online advocacy group for sex offenders."
Logue is a former sex offender. He says he's been pushed around from home to home for far too long.
And thanks to treatment and education at places like the Pogue Center, he's returned into society as a productive, law abiding citizen.
"Treatment is the bull work of rehabilitation and reducing recidivism among former offenders," he said.
Officials say center provides a much-needed and valuable service, and that's it's making changes in light of the Kirkland case and a state investigation into its procedures.
Some of these changes include:
- Contacting the Adult Parole Authority when a resident goes AWOL, even if it's after hours.
- Increasing day to day communication with police and parole officers.
- Holding weekly reviews of high risk clients and their potential for going AWOL.