Protesters rally outside sex offender group home

It's been a story FOX 10 has followed for weeks, the plight of a Mesa home owned by Christian missionaries who have opened their doors to sex offenders.

- More than 50 neighbors, holding and wearing blue ribbons, gathered to send a message of protecting their kids from people that live in this house.

Currently, two registered sex offenders live in the house with a Christian couple, whose mission is to get them back on their feet.

"It's not OK to sneak in and set up shop without a license or permit," Carla Jetton said. "You need to go through the right channels."

Maricopa County officials say the couple does not have a special-use permit to operate a group home and could be violating zoning laws. Jetton knocked on their door and voiced her concerns directly to Steve and Deborah Schmidt.

"I don't hate you, I don't hate your faith, everyone has convictions, but I don't understand," she said. "It's my job as a single mother to take care of my kids. They're all I have."

"I don't know what to say to them," Deborah Schmidt responded. "I wish I could make it all better, but I just don't know how. We can't find a place to go so what do we do?"

Schmidt does not believe she needs a special-use permit to allow the registered offenders to live in her home.

"We're not operating as a group home," she said. 'We're not charging them to live here. We haven't charged them anything at all to live here, so we're not running a business."

Still, Jetton says she and her fellow neighbors are determined to force them out.

"What I can do now for my kids is to make their close circle, their mile radius as safe as it can be and it's not right now," she said.

Maricopa County officials say an investigation is underway into whether what the Schmidts' are doing is legal.

If they are found to be in violation of zoning laws and continue to allow sex offenders to live at the home, a judge could potentially order an injunction and order the sex offenders to move out.

The Schmidts say they continue to try and find a new place to live.


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