Thursday, December 5, 2013
The Guy Next Door
(Continued from page 1)
Bruce King according to a mugshot taken by the Maine Department of Corrections, possibly in 2003. Maine Department of Corrections
Maine Department of Corrections
Probation officers sometimes call him looking for a place for a sex offender getting out of prison to live, he said.
Fleury said he does not recruit such tenants, they come to him.
“They contact us, it could be a probation officer, or it could be a tenant directly,” Fleury said. “For the most part it is tenants. We have no recruitment policy and don’t reach out to any agency. The only advertising we do is in the paper.”
Landry acknowledges a dilemma — the best places for sex offenders released from prison to live, unless their own family members are willing to take them in, are urban service centers, like Augusta, where they are more likely both to be more easily monitored by authorities and find the resources that allow them to make the best possible new start to their lives.
But those same places are, obviously, also going to have the most people, children included, living in them. And many people don’t want sex offenders as their neighbors.
Daycare, parent concerns
Resident Delora Dahlen Henderson lives, and has run a daycare center for two decades, next to a sex offender. But she said his presence concerns her less than what she estimates are the five other sex offenders living within walking distance of her Cony Street neighborhood.
“None of these children are ever out of my sight,” Henderson said. That includes not only her daycare charges, but her 4-year-old granddaughter. “Not because my neighbor is a pedophile, but because there are five others in the area. I have a responsibility not to let them out of my sight. People need to make themselves aware.”
Melanie Baillargeon, mother of two boys ages 7 and 12, said she is not surprised Augusta — where she lives in the same westside home where she was raised — has more sex offenders per capita than anywhere else in Maine.
“The landscape of my neighborhood, over the last 40 years, has changed significantly,” she said. “There are no little children on my street. There are very few resident-landlords in the buildings in my neighborhood, they’re are all out-of-staters.”
She said when she was 12 years old, she’d leave the house on her own for baby-sitting jobs. Now, she says her 12-year-old son doesn’t walk to the library by himself. Nor have her sons ever been to Cunningham Park, nearby on North Street.
“At the end of the day, I have to keep my children safe, and myself,” she said. “We talk about it throughout the year, what they should do if a stranger comes up to them and says ‘help me with my dog.’ You ask those questions and keep their minds aware. You don’t want them to be paralyzed by fear, but you don’t want them to be in a bubble, either. I feel fortunate the sense of community that Augusta has is still evident. In any community, there are extremes.”
Jim Pepin who rents to 10 sex offenders, according to the registry and city assessing database, the second most sex offenders of any landlord in the city, said he rents to them because it would be wrong to discriminate against them. He has 31 buildings, with 140 units.
Many of the city’s sex offenders live in the same parts of the city, often in the same buildings.
Five live in Pepin’s 388 Water St., just above the downtown area.
A section of Green Street which is just behind the 388 Water St. area, has sex offenders living in three different buildings.
And three sex offenders live in a Fleury-owned building at 34 Cedar St.
(Continued on page 3)
click image to enlarge
388 Water Street in Augusta.
Staff photo by Andy Molloy