Man found dead in cold was turned away from shelters in past because he was sex offender

Ed: Of course, most people won't care, convinced as they are that sex offenders are necessarily beasts undeserving of living or, for that matter, any of the rights everyone else in the U.S. enjoys. Not only is this predictable (I did so here several months ago at the onset of winter amid reports that S.O.s were being refused entry to homeless shelters) but what is also certain is that these policies will continue into the foreseeable future without the slightest concern for their murderous consequences. It's just as certain that states like California, in the midst of its worst fiscal crisis in decades, will continue to imprison sex offenders whom they have permanently detained in Coalinga State Hospital after they have completed their long prison sentences at a cost of nearly a half million dollars each PER YEAR. One no longer expects rational public policy when the topic is sex offenders. For too long we have been under the spell of the hysterics. And able deprogrammers are nowhere on the horizon...

GRAND RAPIDS -- A man found dead on the streets Monday had tried in recent weeks to gain admittance to at least one of two Heartside missions, but was denied a bed because he is a registered sex offender.

Officials say its possible Thomas Pauli might be alive today except for a state law prohibiting him from establishing a residence even for one night within 1,000 feet of a school, in this case, Catholic Central High, also located in the Heartside district.

"It's heartbreaking. I have a hard time even talking about it," said Marge Palmerlee, executive director at Degage Ministries.

Palmerlee said she had talked to at least two people who told her Pauli had tried earlier this month to secure a bed at one or both missions.

Bill Merchut of Mel Trotter and Bill Shaffer of Guiding Light agreed that Pauli may have tried to gain entrance, but that their missions risk fines and loss of license if they admit sex offenders. They do not track everyone who applies for a bed, only those who are admitted, so while they were sure Pauli had not been admitted, they couldn't be sure if he had tried.

They both decried a system where there are no exceptions to the so-called Megan's Law, which sets boundaries and restrictions for those on the list.

"We have to follow the law, but ethically, it feels like were responsible," said Merchut.

Added Shaffer, "These men and women are clearly 'The Scarlet Letter' folks of our day. And where do they go? I have no answer."

Pauli, 52, served 11 years in prison for a 1991 conviction in Grand Traverse County for second-degree criminal sexual conduct, state records show. He was released in 2003 and was required to register as a sex offender.

Results of an autopsy are not yet available.

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