AURORA – Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is defending the city's position to evict 19 child sex offenders from Wayside Cross Ministries.
"Last week, Aurora police officers notified child sex offenders residing at Wayside [Cross] Ministries that they were in violation of the law by residing within 500 feet of a playground," Irvin said in a media briefing at Aurora City Hall on July 2. "Our effort and priority is the protection of our children, especially in proximity to the park where the children regularly play."
The Wayside facility, located at 215 E. New York St. in downtown Aurora, is within 500 feet of the property line of McCarty Park, Irvin said. On June 26, the child sex offenders were given 30 days to leave the facility.
"Let's recognize these individuals that we are speaking of are convicted child molesters," he said, in response to reporter questions about the city's actions. "If you're asking me where would these child sex offenders go, wherever they go, it can't be within 500 feet of where children play...Being within 500 feet of this park violates the child sex offender registration laws."
He said the city started having conversations with Wayside leaders about the violation in February, nearly two months prior to Thomas Kokoraleis – who was convicted of the 1982 murder of Lorraine "Lorry" Ann Borowski of Elmhurst – moved into the Wayside facility.
Kokoraleis was released on March 29 from prison after serving half of his 70-year sentence. On March 31, Kokoraleis went into the Aurora Police Department to register as a sex offender and then moved into the facility.
Irvin said the city had become aware that the city's geographic information system maps that assist the police department had not correctly measured the distance from the Wayside facility to McCarty Park.
"City staff had met with Wayside and made them aware of the circumstance and asked that they not admit any additional sex offenders until the issue was resolved," Irvin said.
Because he is not a child sex offender, Kokoraleis is not impacted by the city's action. Both Kokoraleis and Borowski were 21 years old at the time of the alleged murder.
"This doesn't affect any other person other than child sex offenders," Irvin said. "So they're free to continue their mission. As a matter of fact, I respect their mission. But Illinois law says, and I agree with, that for the protection of our children, child sex offenders cannot live within 500 feet of where children are playing, in this case, a park and a day care."
Wayside Cross Ministries leaders have expressed concerns about the city's action.
"Wayside Cross Ministries has been the only refuge for these men, and has been a beacon of light for over 90 years," Wayside Executive Director James Lukose said in a statement.
He added that releasing the men "into the community without supervision and support is not in the best interest of these residents or the community."