9 Investigates: Orlando as a haven for sex offenders

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ORLANDO, Fla. - On an otherwise unremarkable Orlando street, in a home flying an American flag, 61-year-old Earl Cain lives with five other sexual offenders.

His state registry shows two convictions from his hometown of West Palm Beach for sex battery on a victim under 2.

"When I got out of prison, I came right straight here to Orlando," said Cain.

By moving to Orlando, Cain became part of a trend, one that he said his prison social worker specifically encouraged.

"She said, 'You know, you can't live in the city of West Palm.' I said, 'Well, find me a place where I can go,'"

"And she directed you to Orlando?" WFTV investigative report George Spencer asked Cain.

"Yes, she did," said Cain.

Some of those Spencer spoke with said this is why: the city of Orlando follows state law, which restricts sex offenders on probation from living within 1,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and day care centers.

But some places, including Palm Beach County, have written their own tougher restrictions, keeping offenders 2,500 feet from those places.

Orlando's looser restrictions make more areas legal for offenders.

The number of sex offenders living in ZIP codes that closely mirror Orlando city limits climbed from 707 in 2008 to 1,046 this year, a 48 percent jump that slightly outpaces statewide growth.

The number of sexual predators went from 95 in 2008 to 156 this year, a 64 percent jump, more than double the overall growth rate.

Tom Roseberry is the homeowners association president for Orlando's Rock Lake neighborhood, which, he says, is home to 53 offenders. He said the jump in registered sexual offenders moving to Orlando is a safety issue.

Roseberry said his community has fought to tighten city restrictions.

"People from all over the state now, sex offenders from all over the state, are finding Orlando as the place they can come and live," said Roseberry.

Roseberry said at the least he would like limits on the concentration of offenders in any given area.

A city representative said that staffers from at least four departments are researching possible changes, but have nothing concrete yet to report.

Cain said he hopes for compassion.

"Are you a threat?" Spencer asked Cain.

"No, I'm not a threat to nobody," said Cain.

One neighbor said he'd rather see the offenders in neighborhood houses than have them sit empty, as some were before.

Despite the number of sex predators in Orlando the city still has only a small fraction of the state's overall population of predators.