ORLANDO, Fla. – An assisted living facility assigned to house a convicted sex offender from the Orange County Jail does not have a state license, a News 6 investigation revealed.
Joseph Berry, 56, faced repeated arrests for exposing himself to young children and women and failing to register as a sex offender for at least 29 years.
The indecent exposure charges were dropped after he was found not competent to stand trial, but the latest charges of failing to register are still being prosecuted.
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Last month, despite opposition from neighbors and victim families, Orange County Judge Wayne C. Wooten ordered Berry to be transported to Homes Sweet Homes Assisted Living Facility after a plan was presented to the court by his public defender.
The facility is located on Hyde Park Ave. in the middle of a neighborhood.
At the time, Berry’s public defender and prosecutors were unable to find another facility that would take a convicted sex offender.
Berry was expected to be transported from the jail that night or the next day, but that never happened.
News 6 investigated and uncovered Homes Sweet Homes was not licensed with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.
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In fact, the agency sent a violation notice to Homes Sweet Homes in January.
Despite that, the business is promoted on several websites claiming they are state-licensed.
News 6 knocked on the door at the home to ask why they accepted Berry as a new client if they did not have a license.
No one answered the door.
News 6 contacted the State Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office to ask why they would consider a facility that was not licensed to send an inmate with mental health issues.
The State Attorney’s Office said they could not comment as Berry’s case was still open.
The Public Defender’s Office did not respond.
Residents who live near Homes Sweet Homes took their concerns to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners last month.
Mayor Jerry Demings said the county cannot get involved in Berry’s case because he is in jail.
“I think for him, he has to stay on his medication and do all those things if he is going to be successful and staying out of periods of incarceration,” he said.
This week, Berry’s defense attorney asked the court to release Berry outright, foregoing an assisted living facility.
A hearing has been set for Nov. 30 to determine his next step.
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