By Cara Hogan
ATKINSON — Some residents are upset a convicted sex offender is living in their neighborhood and think the police should have warned them.
But police Chief Philip Consentino said the man has done his time, followed the law and has a right to live on [address withheld].
Fliers were posted around the street on Monday, warning the neighborhood about [name withheld].
- The sex offender registry says "Anyone who uses this information to injure, harass, or commit a criminal act against any person may be subject to criminal prosecution.," and this would, by definition, be harassment, IMO.
[name withheld], 54, a registered sex offender, is living at [address withheld]. He was convicted of aggravated felonious assault on a victim under 13 years old in 2009, served two years in prison, was released July 5 and is now out on probation.
[name withheld] said yesterday he doesn't want any problems.
But his presence is a problem only for some residents.
Count Scott Watkins, among them.
The [address withheld] resident said he saw signs about [name withheld] all over his street when he left for work Monday morning.
"It said in red letters across the top, 'Let's protect our children,'" Watkins said. "It has his picture and name, his description and the rest of the information they have on the sex offender website. When I got home (Monday) afternoon, they had taken them all down."
No one knows who put up or took down the signs, but the neighborhood is in an uproar.
Another [address withheld] resident, John Egan, said he was shocked when he found out.
"We're concerned about it," he said. "When my grandchildren visit, we would never allow them near [address withheld]."
Watkins — and many other residents — called police to complain that a sex offender is living in their neighborhood. Consentino said yesterday, [name withheld] has been living in town for a few weeks and has a legal right to be there.
"The state law requires him to file all his paperwork with us, and he's done that," he said. "He has to check in with us twice a year to register."
In addition, Jeffrey Lyons, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, said [name withheld] must meet with a probation officer every two weeks.
"We have a risk assessment and, based on that, we determine the level of supervision," he said. "If he was considered a high risk of re-offending, that could result in daily meetings with his probation officer or with electronic monitoring. But ([name withheld]) won't be doing that."
Consentino said he was worried about how residents would react to the fliers.
"(The) main concern isn't that they're putting fliers up, but that a group of vigilantes will cause problems for this guy, damaging his house and property," he said. "These things we can't allow."
- And yes, vigilantism is a problem, see here and here.
Some residents criticized police, saying [name withheld]'s name and address should be posted on the town website. Consentino disagrees.
"If you want to find out, all that information is readily available to anyone with a computer at the sex offender registry," Consentino said. "This gentleman did his time, and the state has said he's OK to be released into society. I'm not going to try to make this man's life worse. If he violates any laws, we'll be down on him quick and hard. But, so far, he hasn't caused any problems."
Consentino said the police don't have to knock on everyone's door to warn them.
[name withheld] said he doesn't want any trouble from his neighbors.
Chris Dornin, chairman of the Concord-based nonprofit Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, said he is against the current sex offender registry. And the reaction of some Atkinson residents fuels his argument, he said yesterday.
"The sex offender public registry scares the neighbors and instills a false sense of security that the only threats are on the registry," he said. "And the public backlash against the people on the registry makes many of them more dangerous. The registry is liable to cost the offender their job, their apartment and their relationships, and make them homeless."
Lyons said there are 674 sex offenders on probation or parole in New Hampshire and about 700 more in prison. There is one other sex offender living in Atkinson, according to the New Hampshire Department of Safety Sex Offender Registry website. [name withheld], 60, who lives at [address withheld], committed two counts of felonious sexual assault on a victim between ages 13 and 16.
Watkins, [name withheld]'s neighbor, said police told him to remain vigilant, but that doesn't make him feel much better.
"The bottom line is, there's somebody capable of doing some really bad things living within a few feet from my house," he said.
- Everyone is capable of bad things, even yourself!