Condo Can't Bar Him, Sex Offender Says

AUSTIN (CN) - A sex offender sued his condo association for banning registered sex offenders from living there soon after he was released from prison.
     Theodore Whipple and his wife sued the Valley View Village Condominium Homeowners Association in Federal Court.
     Whipple claims he was convicted of a sex offense 20 years ago and that he has lived with his wife at the condominium since 2008.
     "On September 17, 2012, the husband was released from prison and returned to their condominium home after serving a 34-month sentence for failing to register correctly his residence in the sex offender registry," the complaint states.
     "On September 18, 2012, the condominium association posted a notice on plaintiffs' door announcing for the first time that registered sex offenders are not allowed to live in the condominium."
     Whipple says he is classified as a low-risk sex offender, and that Valley View has banned all registered sex offenders, regardless of their risk level.
     Whipple says he informed his parole officer the day after the notice was posted.
     "Out of an abundance of caution, [Whipple] requested assistance finding a half-way house in which to live given the content of the notice," the complaint states. "Because there were no available half-way house accommodations, and because Mr. Whipple could no longer continue residing at Valley View according to the notice, Mr. Whipple was remanded to the Travis County Correctional Complex (TCCC) in Del Valle."
     Whipple claims that when his parole ended on Nov. 22, so did his prohibition of coming within 500 feet of places where children congregate. He says that prohibition was "significantly less than the 2,000 feet requirement stated in the [condo's] amendment."
     "The amendment, if upheld, will be adopted and enforced by an increasing number of landlords and homeowners associations in Texas, which will severely and unreasonably restrict the residency options of sex offenders who have served their prison sentences and comply with their legal obligations," the complaint states.
     Whipple and his wife seek actual damages, injunctive relief and a temporary restraining order for violations of public policy, the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the right to alienate property.
     They are represented by Fred Williams with Akin Gump of Dallas.