Newschannel 6 has uncovered a troubling issue: Convicted sex offenders who are flying under the radar because of a lack of communication. Former Faith Mission Executive Director John Welter registered as a sex offender in Archer County last year, more than 20 years after being convicted of indecent Assault of a 7 year old, while serving in the military. He's also opened a new ministry and is counseling people on addiction.
Sergeant Simon Dwyer with the Archer County Sheriff's Office said, "I was made aware of Welter's status as a sex offender by Wichita Falls police department detective Sammy Motsenbocker. He had received information that this individual worked at Faith Mission." Welter resigned from Faith Mission in August 2011 when this information came to light.
Faith Mission does have a strong stance on sex offenders. Current Executive Director Steve Sparks said, "Our policy regarding registered sex offenders is that they are not allowed to spend the night here. We do a background check on everyone when they fill out their paperwork to become a guest here." He added, anyone is allowed on site for daily meals.
Newschannel 6 also reached out to Faith Mission's Board of Directors to find out how Welter was able to lead the mission for so long. Janice Stein, Chairman of the Faith Mission Board said because Welter was not registered, Faith Mission had no knowledge of his past. She said the Board was consulting a lawyer when Welter stepped down.
We met with Welter at Scarlet Letter Ministries, his addiction counseling center in Wichita Falls.
He was very open and willing to talk to us when we asked about having to register. He said, "It's part of the reason I chose to resign from Faith Mission. I didn't want them to have problems."
We asked Welter if he was ever told had to register as a sex offender after his conviction, he said no one ever told him. We also talked about concerns that he is counseling people in a ministry capacity, given his past crimes. He said, "When you've gone through a process and when you have problems in your own life and you get those things fixed, you want to help other people fix them."
We also spoke with the Vice President of Scarlet Letter Ministries' Board of Directors and attorney in Archer City, David Levy. He said the board is aware of Welter's past and that they wouldn't have him there or support him there if it was counter to the mission of the organization.
The bigger issue is how a convicted sex offender was able to live under the radar, without being registered, for more than two decades. Sergeant Dwyer said the reason they weren't made aware of Welter's past, lies with the military.
He said military courts do not have to share conviction information with local law enforcement. This means there could be more people, convicted of sex crimes, but no one will ever know.
Dwyer said it makes his job frustrating, "It's troubling to me as the individual responsible for sex offenders in Archer County that our residents may have sex offenders that have committed their offenses while in the military that we still as of yet do not know about." He said there is a small, but dedicated group of US Marshals working with the military to improve communications.
Welter is not breaking any laws and continues to check in with the Archer County Sheriffs Office every 90 days.