ROBINWOOD, AL (WIAT) – A feud in one neighborhood has reached a boiling point, after one Jefferson County, Alabama, man bought a billboard to pressure a registered sex offender to move. Jeb Lessley had the billboard made at a local business for $160. It shows Raymond Martin’s mugshot and lists his address and charges including second degree rape and sodomy for a 2013 conviction involving an underage girl.
Martin and his family want to see the billboard taken down. He lives across the street from it.
“There’s people that already know my circumstances,” he told CBS 42. “They can find it on the website, but it ain’t got to be broadcast. There’s more than one sex offender that lives here,”
Martin estimates that there are more than a dozen registered sex offenders living in the neighborhood. It’s a statistic that the man who actually bought the sign backs up.
“The reason I posted the billboard is because he has been a thorn in my side since he moved into this house,” explained Lessley. Lessley said that Martin first started worrying him when he tried to talk to Lessley’s children. He has six kids, ranging from a newborn to 14 years old.
“He just has a lot of problems,” Lessley said. “To be honest with you, we don’t want to live in fear of him.”
Lessley said that his relationship with Martin has just gotten worse.
“He’s threatened to burn our house done. He’s threatened to poison our dogs. He told my 9 year-old daughter he was going to kill and skin her cat.”
Martin vehemently denies all of Lessley’s claims. He also denies knowingly committing the crime that forced him to register as a sex offender.
“It’s bad enough that nobody knows the tragedy that I had to go through because somebody wanted to lie about their age,” he said. “Much less, them putting it [the billboard] out there. It doesn’t help at all.”
Martin and his mother, Tammy McCullers, said that Martin entered into a relationship with a girl that he believed was over the age of 18. He claimed that he only found out that she was a minor when he was arrested two years later. Martin said that he would never hurt a child–he’s actually a new father.
“To see other people go out and throw their babies in microwaves, beat their child, and everything else–it’s not right,” Martin said. “These kids didn’t ask to be brought in this world. I went without my daddy. My daughter’s not fixing to go without hers.”
Martin said he also has no plans to move, despite the billboard. In fact, he put up two signs of his own that list accusations again Lessley.
“It looks like he wrote on it with crayon on the back of a cardboard box,” Lessley said of the signs. “It states my name and accuses me of crimes I haven’t been convicted of–so that in itself is harassment. I’m going to report that.”
Court documents show that Lessley’s wife already filed harassment charges against Martin back in October. The complaint reads that Martin has yelled obscenities at her and her children and made threats.
Meanwhile, Martin said that the billboard has caused him and his family a lot of pain and stress. He called police out to the neighborhood on Thursday to try and have it removed. “[I was told] that it wasn’t against the law,” Martin said. “That he could do that because it was public information.”
Lessley has also been in contact with police who have told him that Martin is living in compliance with sex offender laws. He said that he’ll take the sign down if and when Martin moves. When asked why he didn’t list any other sex offenders on the billboard, he replied, “Because he’s the only one living across the street from my house, threatening my wife and children.”