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Man Falsely Branded As Sex Offender

4-22-2005 Florida:

Dispute Started When Man Reported Neighbor For Peering Into His Windows

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A local man says he's been wrongly branded a sex offender in his own neighborhood.

Someone's posting sex offender fliers outside his house, but he's not the man on the flier and he's not a sex offender, WESH 2 News reported.

“It's been difficult, believe me,” said James F. Turner.

Pat and James Turner have been through a lot. Eight years ago, they survived a near fatal car accident. Four years ago, James Turner, a former Marine, had a golf ball-sized aneurysm burst in his brain.

“And none of that is as devastating as this is,” said his wife, Pat.

A flier started circulating in their neighborhood this month. Someone wrote that a registered sex offender from Maitland might now be living at the Turners' west Orlando address. Response was immediate.

“My grandkids were outside and they come in the house crying because no one wants to play with them. The neighbors give me dirty looks,” James Turner said.

Who would do this? Neighbor Marlene Morton admits she did. It started when the Turners reported Morton to authorities for peeking in their windows. Soon after, Morton says James Turner's "strange behavior" led her to check the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's sex offender database.

“So you went to the Web site after they reported you? Isn't it possible you went to the Web site to find someone who looks like him?” WESH 2’s Bob Kealing asked.

“No. Absolutely not,” Morton said.

With only her hunch and no facts to back it up, Morton admits she put out the fliers.

“What if somebody did this to you?” Kealing asked.

“Well, in a way he did do that to me by reporting me. The sheriffs came and yelled at me and screamed at me that I was trespassing. And he accused me of looking in his windows,” Morton said. She said the fliers are not retribution for Turner’s call to the police.

"My wife wants to move. I told her I'm not moving nowhere because I didn't do anything," Turner said.

The head of the sheriff's sex offender surveillance squad agrees.

“I made contact with Mr. Turner. I identified Mr. Turner. He's not a sex offender. This man's probably never been arrested in his life,” said Sgt. Keith Hubbard.

The Turners said the damage has been done, and being branded this way is another of the Turners’ growing list of troubles.

“I've been diagnosed with leukemia,” Turner said.

The worst offense WESH 2 News found against Turner is a speeding ticket.

Morton is not convinced and said she won’t be until the sheriff’s department contacts her personally. That might be happening soon because officers have opened a criminal investigation into this case. She may be facing criminal charges as early as next week. ..more.. by

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