Orlando mother battles plan to release sex offender near her neighborhood | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County prosecutors have one week to decide if they will challenge a proposal that would allow a man repeatedly arrested for indecent exposure to live in an assisted living facility near some of his alleged victims.

Joseph Berry, 54, was originally arrested for performing a lewd act in the presence of a child in 1994.

He was found guilty, and as a result, he was ordered to register as a sex offender.

Court records show Berry did not register for at least 29 years, and he was arrested for similar charges over that time.

A News 6 investigation revealed he was arrested six times since 2015 for indecent exposure and lewd conduct.

According to court records, all six charges were dismissed after Berry was found not competent to stand trial.

Records show Berry was involuntarily committed to the state psychiatric hospital twice, and the staff has not been able to effectively treat him.

He is currently facing charges of failing to register as a sex offender.

In court on Monday, Berry’s defense attorney presented a plan that would house Berry at the Home Sweet Home Assisted Living Facility on Pine Hills Road.

“Look out if you live in the Pine Hills area,” said Genesis Deshawn Browdy.

Genesis Deshawn Browdy holds up a picture of Joseph Berry outside the Orange County Courthouse on Monday. She claims he exposed himself to two of her daughters in 2018. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.)

Browdy and her family held signs outside the Orange County Courthouse on Monday warning drivers that Berry could be released.

Browdy told News 6 in 2018 Berry exposed himself to two of her daughters.

She appeared in court on Monday to urge Judge Wayne Wooten to keep Berry in custody.

“I am the mother of two little girls that were victimized by Mr. Berry,” she told the judge. “I’m begging the court to please reconsider his sleeping arrangements. My children go to school and frequent the same area where he is set to be released.”

Some of Browdy’s neighbors joined her in speaking to the court.

“This man has attacked women and children – specifically, Black women and children,” said Cynthia Harris.

Wooten expressed his own concerns with the plan presented by Berry’s attorney.

“I do have concerns that the current conditional release plan would simply be an invitation for new cases or a bad outcome for the defendant if he were to walk away,” Wooten told the court. “I think it’s reasonable under the circumstances to give the state some period of time to respond, to suggest an alternative for conditional release.”

Wooten gave prosecutors one week to decide if they would accept the defense’s proposal to house Berry at the assisted living facility or try to find another facility outside of the area.

The judge warned if another facility cannot be located, he may have no choice but to release Berry outright.

News 6 contacted State Attorney Andrew Bain, who provided a written statement:

State Attorney Andrew Bain understands many community members are upset and have questions and concerns regarding defendant Joseph Berry. We hear you and are committed to being as transparent as we can be regarding this matter.

The defendant was declared legally incompetent to stand trial five years ago and under the Supreme Court ruling in Jackson v. Indiana, it is unconstitutional to indefinitely hold an individual who has been deemed legally incompetent. The defendant also no longer meets the state requirement to be held in a state hospital.

We want to assure you that Mr. Berry will remain under strict court monitoring and will be subject to rigorous conditions to ensure public safety. These conditions include requiring the defendant stay in regular contact with his attorneys and appear at all scheduled court dates. He will not be able to have any contact with the victims involved in his cases or consume alcohol or illicit substances. Our office, along with the relevant authorities will monitor and enforce these and other conditions.

Our justice system is not perfect. This outcome is based on the legal framework governing cases of individuals declared legally incompetent. We are committed to finding solutions to keep offenders who have mental illnesses from continuing to harm the public. We need specialized treatment facilities in the ninth circuit where they can go when jail and state mental health treatment facilities are no longer options.

Later this year, the state attorney is touring the Miami-Dade Alternative Center. It is a forensic hospital diversion program that provides competency-restoration and community-reintegration services using evidence-based and best practices to treat offenders who have mental health and substance use disorders. These services can be provided in a locked residential treatment facility when appropriate.

With the community’s help, the Florida legislature has passed a law allowing counties to create similar facilities in other communities.

We have a responsibility to hold people who break the law accountable for their actions in accordance with the law—and that is something we will never stop fighting for.

Andrew Bain, State Attorney, District 9

The next court hearing is set for Monday, Oct. 23, at 11:30 a.m.

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