Rules are bent for impaired offender

Posted: November 2, 2013

The Winchester Star

Alan J. Lusk

WINCHESTER — After exhausting supervised probation housing options, a local judge has granted an intellectually disabled sex offender unsupervised probation to prevent him from becoming homeless.

Alan J. Lusk, 30, of Mallory, W.Va., was supposed to be released from the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center on Oct. 7 after serving nearly two years on a local computer solicitation and attempted indecent liberties charge.

Instead, he has remained behind bars, with his “good time” revoked because a housing solution had not been reached.

He must be released from custody on Tuesday.

Lusk’s attorney David Hensley filed a motion on Friday, asking that his client be able to serve unsupervised probation instead of the required 10 years of supervised probation.

Brandon Daisy, a Virginia Department of Corrections probation and parole officer, explained on Friday that Lusk — whose mother described him as being mentally disabled after numerous head traumas — has been a lifelong resident of West Virginia.

He submitted two housing plans to state officials, seeking to transfer the sex offender’s supervised probation, but both were rejected.

The first was a plan that would have allowed Lusk to live alone in an apartment in Kistler, W.Va. — about three miles from his mother and stepfather in Mallory.

Daisy said that plan was rejected because the apartment was within 1,000 feet of a playground.

The second plan was for Lusk to live with his mother and stepfather in Mallory, but it was rejected because the home was within 1,000 feet of a school-bus stop.

Lusk has no family in Winchester and no options for housing, and cannot be taken to a local homeless shelter because they are at capacity, Daisy said.

He added that state officials could have placed Lusk in a hotel for 30 days after his release, but could not guarantee a longer stay if he did not find a place to live.

Daisy said his job is to make a recommendation based on the best outcome for the local community and the best outcome for the offender.

In Lusk’s case, the outcome had two options: unsupervised probation and allowing him to live with his mother in West Virginia; or keeping him on supervised probation and having him become homeless in Winchester.

Lusk will be required to register as a sex offender on unsupervised probation, but will not have to report to a probation office and be heavily monitored for potential violations of probation.

“I think it’s ironic that West Virginia has imposed so many restrictions that it basically makes it impossible for him to be supervised [there],” said Frederick County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ross Spicer.

Hensley called Lusk’s mother Kathy Thompson to testify on Friday about her home situation.

She said that because her son was low-functioning, living on his own so far away — Mallory is about eight hours from Winchester — would be impossible.

“He don’t know how to count money, he don’t know how to tell time,” she said. “There’s no way Alan could survive here in Winchester by himself.”

She said that even when he was previously living on his own — when he got into trouble by soliciting what he thought was a minor for sex, but was actually a law enforcement officer — she managed his money, rent, doctor’s appointments, medications and other actiactivities.

Thompson said her son is under the care of a doctor and takes medication for depression and hallucinations and to help him sleep.

She said she is employed full- time, but has worked out a plan with her supervisor to be able to take her son wherever he needs to be as part of his probation.

She added that her husband, who is disabled, is at home all the time and can also help with Lusk.

Thompson assured retired Judge John E. Kloch that Lusk would be under nearly full-time supervision at her home and that she does not have a computer or Internet connection.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Fahnda Hashish objected to Hensley’s motion for unsupervised probation, saying that she believed it was of paramount importance that Lusk remain supervised.

She also said she did not think the only housing option was for Lusk to live with his mother or become homeless.

“The state of West Virginia is large,” Hashish said. “There are multiple other living arrangements. I think more attempts can be made to find [something] suitable.”

She added that placing him on unsupervised probation and hoping that state officials will learn if any violations or sexual offenses occur was not “a good idea by any stretch.”

Hensley said he did believe all housing options had been exhausted and that he would not be in court without the recommendation by the probation officer.

He added that Lusk had served more time than he should, and that if released in Winchester, he would bounce back and forth between homeless shelters and homeless camps.

“I think it’s unreasonable West Virginia won’t take the case,” Hensley said. “This is the only thing we can come up with.”

Kloch said he did not have a solution that would make everyone happy, but if the goal was to prevent Lusk from re-offending, putting him out on his own was inviting the same behavior.

“I don’t like the idea of unsupervised probation either,” he said. “But what we’re dealing with here [Lusk living with his mother] is probably the best form of supervision that we could ask for.”

He granted the defense’s motion and set requirements for Lusk to ensure that Virginia officials are aware of his status.

Kloch also told Thompson that she should report any violation by her son, noting that this would be in his best interest.

“I’m putting a certain amount of faith in you as a mother,” he said.

Lusk is required to appear in the court on Nov. 6, 2014, for a review.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com