Courts & Crime

Sex offenders living under Miami bridge don't want to move

MIAMI — Three years ago, few cared about the ragtag outcasts living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway.

Now, two lawsuits and a groundswell of national media coverage later, potential housing options for the convicted sex offenders are being negotiated among state and local officials, with legal challenges poised to fly through the courts. Even Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has pledged to do his part to find a resolution.

But there is just one snag no one seemed to see coming: The sex offenders themselves are reluctant to leave their ramshackle abodes, no matter how deplorable their isolated existence has become.

Ron Book — chairman of Miami-Dade's Homeless Trust and a victim's right's advocate — is nevertheless marching forward on a mission to relocate the very people he once pledged to ostracize.

He has up to 18 possible units ready for them to move into and more to investigate.

But the causeway community isn't budging, at least for now.

"I guess they're trying to move us out of here because they're worried about the lawsuit,'' said Rickie, 24, who gave only his first name because he did not want it widely known that he lives under the causeway.

"I'd rather stay here. This where they put me in the first place.''

Book cited two obstacles: Many don't want to move into far south Miami-Dade County, while others have bought into a rumor that they may benefit financially from legal challenges brought recently on their behalf.

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