11 Call For Action investigates: Registered sex offender living on public dime

By  | 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A registered sex offender, living off of taxpayer money.

Christian Garcia

A 13-year-old girl unwittingly made the discovery after learning about sex offender registries at school one day. At her teacher's prompting, she typed in her own address when she got home from school.

"She yelled, 'Mom!'" mother Vanessa (last name withheld) told 11 News. "And I went in there and she said, 'This is our address.' She says, 'Oh my gosh, isn't this our neighbor?'"

Vanessa and her four children live in public housing on the southwest side of the Springs. Under the Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, handbook, owners of these homes are supposed to prohibit anyone on the sex offender registry from renting.

But despite the law, sex offender registration records show Christian Garcia's address listed as the very apartment complex Vanessa and her children call home.

"It's super scary," Vanessa said.

Vanessa now wants to know how this could have happened.

"It makes me wonder how did everyone else in charge not realize that this was going on? And if they did know, why was nothing done? ... Somebody dropped the ball somewhere and it's absolutely appalling that something like this would fly under the radar."

Vanessa -- a survivor of domestic abuse -- says one of the reasons she chose to live in this particular complex is because of the locks on all doors leading outside.

"Unfortunately, as it turns out, we were locking a criminal inside every night."

One of Vanessa's neighbors says the address Garcia listed is actually her own.

"He does not live here at my apartment at all, it's just me and my kids," Jamie Busch said. "In actuality, his address is on the third floor."

11 News reporter Kyla Galer knocked on that address, but no one answered. She later inquired with apartment management how Garcia could have been living at the complex for six months. Management refused to talk on camera, but very briefly spoke to Galer on the phone before hanging up on her. They said they had no idea he was living there.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office said sex offenders are checked on once a year.

"It really is incumbent upon the person who is renting the properties to make sure that that person is not a registered sex offender, especially if it is HUD housing," said spokesperson Jacqueline Kirby.

For Vanessa, none of these answers are reassuring.

"I feel like this guy needs to be exposed for the liar that he is," Vanessa said.

The sheriff's office says that just last week, Garcia listed a new address in Colorado Springs. But neighbors say they've still seen him hanging out at the complex in recent days.

Even if he's gone, Busch said she no longer knows if this was an anomaly.

"It kind of makes me wonder how many people now live here that are registered sex offenders with all the kids that run around here," Busch told Galer.

11 News is told it's unlikely Garcia will face charges, but he could get in trouble with his probation officer.

If you would like to see if any sex offenders live near you, click here.