Oklahoma places a lot of residency restrictions on convicted sex offenders. They may not live within 2,000 feet of a school, public park or playground, day care facility, or any property whose primary purpose is working with children. If the crime involved a child, they may not live with a child, unless they are the parent, stepparent, or grandparent of the child, and that child is not the victim of the crime. They may not live with other registered sex offenders.
In fact, some reports indicate that up to 84 percent of Oklahoma City and 92 percent of Tulsa is off-limits for residency for people who have been convicted of sex crimes and are required to register as sex offenders.
But one place the law apparently does allow convicted sex offenders to live is next door to their victims. One Oklahoma woman is fighting to change that after her abuser moved in next door.
In 2003, Harold Dwayne English came to visit relatives in Bristow, Oklahoma. While there, he molested his 7-year-old niece, Danyelle Dyer (her name is used because of her decision to publicly tell her story). Dyer told her parents about the abuse, and English was arrested. He was convicted and sent to prison.
When English was released from prison last month, he went to live with his mother, Dyer's grandmother, who lives right next door to Dyer and her parents.
Dyer said various lawmakers, police, and prison officials assured her that a sex offender would not be allowed to live so close to his victim. However, each eventually called her back to say that they were mistaken. Nothing in the law would prevent him from moving in next door.
Now, the 21-year-old woman has decided to fight back. She and her parents began with a grassroots effort, publicly calling out English as a sex offender on Facebook, posting his registration information and noting that he moved in next door. They put up a sign on their property that reads, "Child Sex Offender Harold Dwayne English," with arrows pointing to the home where English is living. And now, Dyer is seeking to get the law changed to prevent a similar situation from happening to anyone else.
Oklahoma State Rep. Kyle Hilbert is working with the Dyer family to draft a bill that would prevent convicted sex offenders from living within close proximity of their victims. Hilbert says of the bill, "I'm doing everything I can to try and help and do something statutorily to prevent this from happening to anyone else in Oklahoma."
The lawmaker intends to introduce the bill when the state legislature reconvenes in February 2018.