Sex offender turned away from church

CHATHAM COUNTY James Nichols says his rights were violated, but the law says otherwise.

The 31-year-old has been convicted of having unlawful sexual activity with a teenage girl and attempted second-degree rape.

Nichols does not deny his troubled past, but he says he overcame it after finding God in prison.

He says he is now trying to fight a law that keeps him out of many churches and away from children.

One of the few places Nichols is able to go to church is New Life Mission.

It is not an ordinary church, all of its members are homeless and most are known to have regular run-ins with the law.

"Church gave me that opportunity, took me in with open hands and gave me a second chance when no one else would," Nichols said.

By law, Nichols cannot come within 300 feet of any place that takes care of children. He broke that law when he attended another church and was arrested.

"I was devastated," Nichols said. "I cried, I broke down and cried. It hurt so bad, because I try to live my life for God first trying to be a better person knowing the mistakes I made in life."

Nichols later found New Life Mission, which does not have a daycare.

The pastor at the church told Eyewitness News that she does not turn anyone away and wants to help Nichols.

But critics are not so sympathetic, pointing out Nichols' charges of indecent liberties with a teenage girl and attempted second degree rape.

However, Nichols said he wants the state law to change and the chance to choose any church.

"Yes I did do wrong," he said, "Yeah, I feel that I paid my time, but I am under 24 hour surveillance. I accept some limits I can understand that, but to take away my religious belief and my way of life that is actually changing my way of thinking and allowing me to be a better person, I feel that, that part is wrong."

Nichols' attorney has filed a motion calling the law that banned him from the other church, unconstitutional.

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