Accused criminals to be interviewed feet away from South Bend daycare

Some South Bend parents are fired up after learning accused pedophiles and abusers could be interviewed just feet away from their children's daycare.

According to East Bank Village tenants, the Family Justice and CASIE centers both plan to move into a building at 533 East Madison Street.

The facility sits just 28 feet from the East Bank Learning Center, where more than 100 kids are cared for everyday.

The owner of the learning center held a meeting Friday night to alert parents of the potential problem.

"I'm very upset because I'm entrusted with people's children," said owner Leslie Kleppe. "There's 200 parents that have to work downtown and I want [the kids] to be safe down here."

There was hardly enough room for all of the concerned parents who showed up to ask questions.

Many of them say they have no problem with the organizations moving in; they just have a problem with what they'll be doing.

When the two agencies move into the building, they'll start conducting interviews of accused criminals on site.

At least 12 police officers will be stationed at the facility.

"I was totally amazed they would bring in potential people who abused children, bringing them into facilities so close to a daycare," said parent Jim Benak. "I understand that it's been conveyed there are 12 officers on the inside, but that does nothing for the outside, the parking lot, the playground and the people coming to and from."

Many parents at the meeting expressed similar concerns.

They're hopeful the organizations will agree to conduct the interviews elsewhere to ensure the safety of children.

"I can understand hey, you want to put everything together, have it under one roof, and save money that way," said parent Jeremey May. "But, this might not be the right location for that sort of thing. The potential for danger and problems is just not acceptable for a lot of families around here."

Kleppe says she's meeting with the St. Joseph County Prosecutor Monday to discuss parents' concerns.

Although the Family Justice Center and CASIE Center have already signed a lease, she's hopeful an agreement can be worked out that's in everyone's best interest.


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