TERRE HAUTE – Finding a place to stay can be a tough challenge for people recently released from prison or jail.
The stigma attached to convicted felons — especially those convicted of sex crimes — means that the general public might object if a released offender moves in next door. But unless required by law, an ex-offender is not mandated to tell anyone that he or she has a criminal history, meaning the person staying in the motel room next door could be a convicted rapist, a violent offender, or a thief.
Even if the motel staff knows about a guest’s criminal history, there is no requirement that a motel or hotel or any other hospitality provider notify the public that a sex offender is staying on site.
According to the online offender registry website for Vigo County, numerous sex offenders list their residence as the Econo Lodge on Margaret Avenue in Terre Haute. The management at the motel declined to comment when asked by the Tribune-Star to discuss the guest policy there.
When the corporate office of Econo Lodge was contacted, a company representative stated that the Margaret Avenue motel was no longer an Econo Lodge franchise as of April 15, and the motel had 90 days in which to change its signage.
Shailesh Taylor — who was listed online as an agent of Omkara Hospitality LLC, which owns the Margaret Avenue motel — told the Tribune-Star that the motel owners had no comment about the status of the motel. They also declined to comment on an April 1 incident in which a convicted sex offender was arrested for allegedly abducting and attempting to rape a young girl who was residing at the motel with her family.
The Indiana Hotel and Lodging Association, which is billed on its website as the “voice of hospitality” in the state, also has no guidelines concerning sex offenders who rent rooms at hotels and motels.