A mentally ill man’s sex crimes in summer 2010, which sparked outrage among Hillsboro residents, has instigated proposed legislation that would require licensing for certain residential facilities.
Hillsboro residents, crime victims and Rep. Katie Eyre Brewer (R-Hillsboro) testified Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee in support of House Bill 4159, which would define the Luke-Dorf Hillsboro facility as a “residential treatment facility,” subject to licensing and oversight.
That’s where 34-year-old Telly Heath was living in July 2010, when left the facility and raped a 21-year-old woman and sexually abused an 11-year-old girl at knifepoint after breaking into their homes.
Eyre’s office said Thursday the bill “slightly adjusts state law to ensure agencies work together to ensure more facilities are licensed and monitored.”
The Hillsboro Neighborhoods Coalition is behind the bill and has also filed a complaint with the Oregon Health Authority. The complaint requests an investigation into the Luke-Dorf facilities and a review of the laws on licensing for residential facilities.
“As a direct result of inadequate supervision and monitoring by Luke-Dorf, two young Oregonians were the victims of brutal crimes,” the complaint alleges.
Filed Feb. 1 by attorney John Gear, the complaint says the facility is operating in violation of state law.
Linda Mokler, chairwoman of the neighborhoods coalition, said the facilities need oversight to keep the public safe and to better help facility residents.
“We really are seeking this to benefit the clients, the employees and the community,” she said.
The group is not opposed to social services, Mokler said, but it wants to see improvements in monitoring and public disclosure.
“They have to be run in a responsible way that gives our community a peace of mind that there is accountability,” she said. “We’ve seen what happens when they’re not successful,” she said, referencing Heath’s crimes, which yielded a prison sentence of nearly 38 years.
Mokler said Heath’s crimes may have been prevented if the Luke-Dorf facility had been licensed.
“We can’t say for certain, obviously,” she said. “But more oversight makes this less likely to happen.”
In Heath’s case, she said, a curfew and more monitoring by staff could have protected the public. The community also should have had more information about Luke-Dorf’s clientele, Mokler said.
At the time of the sex crimes, Heath had been accepted into Washington County’s Mental Health Court and was on probation for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and identity theft. Mental Health Court ordered Heath to stay at the Luke-Dorf facility.
Luke-Dorf officials did not respond to requests for comment.