Richland sex offender pleads innocent to sleeping in park bathrooms

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldApril 11, 2013 

A convicted sex offender who's had trouble finding stable housing pleaded innocent Thursday to allegations he was caught sleeping in a park bathroom three times in two weeks.

Jerry Robert Sharp, 61, is classified as a Level 3 sex offender, meaning he is considered highly likely to reoffend.

As part of his status, Sharp is banned from all Richland city parks, schools and the library because he's to have no contact with kids.

But on three separate occasions, Richland police allegedly found Sharp in or near a restroom at Columbia Point Marina, a park operated by the city.

Sharp knew he wasn't supposed to be there and was kicked out each time, but continued to trespass, court documents allege.

Sharp, who's considered a transient, faces trial June 3 in Benton County Superior Court on three counts of criminal trespass against children.

Police were first called to the marina on March 23 for a citizen report of an assault that had occurred in a restroom.

Sharp was identified as the victim of that assault. He had injuries on his face and a pool of blood was found in the bathroom referred to by the citizen, documents said.

It is not clear in the court documents who beat up Sharp or if the suspect was found.

Then on March 28 at 4:21 a.m., Officer Doug Doss was patrolling through the park when he found Sharp sleeping in the bathroom.

And at 4:28 a.m. April 7, Doss found Sharp in the same location.

Sharp told the officer "that he knew he was not allowed in the park, but was trying to stay warm and dry," documents said.

Sharp's criminal history dates back to 1971, including convictions for carnal knowledge, unlawful imprisonment, attempted kidnapping, rape, failing to register as a sex offender, attempting to elude police and possessing controlled substances.

In October 2010, he was sentenced to six months in jail for second-degree criminal mistreatment with domestic violence. He also got six months -- which was to be served at the same time -- for misdemeanor harassment in an unrelated case.

Sharp failed to provide appropriate medical care to his elderly mother over the years, often left her covered in urine and feces and wouldn't refill her medications. He told authorities at the time that his mother was his "meal ticket" and he would have nowhere to live if she were removed from his home.

The harassment charge was for threatening his nephew with a hammer during a fight.

Last September, Sharp had been living in a Catskill Street home for only a few weeks when he quickly moved out because he reportedly was tired of the scrutiny. The house was near Sacajawea Elementary School.

School officials and residents were notified that Sharp had moved into the north Richland neighborhood, and a group of bikers soon started standing guard near the school as children arrived for class and when they left in the afternoon.

Members of Bikers Against Child Abuse wanted to make sure that Sharp didn't approach any student. That led Sharp to pack up and leave.

Sharp is being held in the Benton County jail on $20,000 bail.

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