WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCBD) – Community members are concerned about a new ministry that is set to open in the Walterboro area.
Shield Ministries, an organization that claims to help convicted sex offenders rehabilitate and re-enter society, will open its doors off Barracada Road near Highway 17-A.
About 50 men could be housed at the property at any given time as the first phase of their three-phase program to help the men improve their lives.
“Shield Ministries is an organization that works to help men transition from the devastation of their past into a thriving future,” explained David Truluck, executive director for Shield Ministries.
But those who live nearby say they are concerned about having sex offenders so close to their homes, children, and grandchildren.
“I’ve lived here for 35 years. I love Walterboro. I love the community,” said neighbor Lisa Langdale.
Langdale is worried about what is going in at this old church site in her rural neighborhood. “I’m just really concerned about living in the neighborhood, for our children, and living in the neighborhood even for myself,” she said.
She’s even part of a new Facebook group that has gained more than 600 followers.
“What do you say to people who maybe they live nearby, they have children or grandchildren at their house, and they’re concerned? What would you say to them,” we asked Truluck.
“Well, we have been a big asset to the community. When you look at our history, we have great relationships with law enforcement agencies,” Truluck replied.
There is also concern about Truluck, personally, because he is a registered sex offender.
“I believe the offense was committ or attempt a lewd act on a child. Do you understand why people might be concerned about an organization that you’re leading being right there in their neighborhood as well,” News 2 asked.
“I do understand why they would be concerned about that, but one of the things I would like to communicate to them is, I’ve been through the process of healing I’ve been through court-ordered counseling, which we will be providing,” he replied.
When asked if he could guarantee that none of the men in the program would bring harm to anyone in the community, Truluck said “I don’t think we could give that type of guarantee,” but cited the program’s “zero percent recidivism” rate.
A community meeting geared toward showcasing the proposal will take place Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. across from Tractor Supply on Bells Highway in Walterboro.
Leaders with Shield Ministries say they are in the process of getting the property ready to open, however, they do not have a specific opening date at this time.