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Landlord Explains Decision to Lock Out Sex Offender

1-16-2006 Wisconsin:

.The landlord of a Fond du Lac apartment house says he had no choice -- he could not let Ramon Loera move into his building. Loera, 32, recently completed a 14-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and 39-year-old woman. He's been living in a halfway house in Fond du Lac and wants to move. "I didn't discriminate at all," Mark Kohlmann insists. "I did my reference checks. Doesn't matter what he did. I know what he did, his background."

Kohlmann said he's rented out his buildings for over 18 years and he never thought he'd have to turn down an applicant because of the neighbors. "I thought he was worth taking a chance on because he was a decent guy and somebody had to give him a chance," Kohlmann contended, "and I thought with the family backing -- which he had a lot of family backing there -- I thought he could do it, and I think he can."

Kohlmann said Loera's mother filled out an application and then a few days later asked if her son could move in, but they hadn't signed a lease. Shortly after, fliers began circulating around the neighborhood about Loera's expected move. The law requires notifying neighbors when a sex offender is moving in. Kohlmann says he started receiving threats from his existing tenants and neighboring landlords that they'd move out if Loera moved in. Kohlmann said that even though his tenants and the neighborhood didn't want Loera moving in, he said he was forced to make a hard decision.

"The decision was because of the neighborhood reaction -- the tenants, the other landlords. If it's not going to work there it's not going to work there. I don't want to make anybody mad, and get along with the community, neighbors and everybody." Kohlmann said he hopes somewhere in the Fond du Lac community Loera is given a chance. ..more.. : by Isabelle Kallie

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