Secret shame: Keeping watch — Sex offenders face lots of supervision

Published: Wednesday, March 19 2008 12:22 a.m. MDT

Shaw receives e-mails from the prison letting him know where soon-to-be released sex offenders intend to live. Parole officers talk with therapists and check out the location before giving it a thumbs up or down, depending on proximity to areas where children gather.

"We do have to deny a lot of addresses," Shaw said.

The worst of the worst among sex offenders might be calculating enough to choose a residence that places them near children. "I think it happens," Shaw said. "It doesn't happen a lot."

· · · · ·

One evening a few weeks ago, teams of parole officers went out to cold-call those they supervise. Cook and his partner called on nine offenders at home. The breadth of circumstances and histories they face is staggering.

Bird Young is a 33-year-old man who lives with his parents in an upscale east-side neighborhood. The man just completed therapy and has been on parole for two years for molesting an 8-year-old girl he met while working as a teacher's aide.

Cook said he's trying to get Bird to find a better job and get out on his own. He's been working at Subway. As his parents and family members eat dinner at the table upstairs, Bird is in his messy basement bedroom, watching "Make Me a Supermodel" on a wall-sized television screen.

He shows officers a letter from his girlfriend, who is on a mission for the LDS Church. He tells officers his girlfriend knows about his crime. His room is heavily decorated with posters, statues and other decorations with an LDS religious theme.

Officer Kody Floyd said he sees that a lot. "But whether or not they're really into it ... who knows?"

David Resendez has just left a halfway house and found an apartment. Cook is meeting him for the first time. "I understand that you are trying to get your life together," Cook tells Resendez, whose victim was his 11-year-old daughter and his daughter's friend, according to Cook.

"I will be straight with you if you are straight with me," Cook says.

Resendez has been out on parole six times for his 1997 crime and has returned to prison on parole violations each time.

Cook and Floyd stop at the home of James Hamelin, who was caught chatting online with an investigator from the Attorney General's Office posing as a 13-year-old boy. The two arranged a meeting and Hamelin was charged with enticing a minor over the Internet. "His story was that he was meeting the boy to tell him it wasn't safe to be online," Cook said.

Across town, parole agents Wenda Stoker and Billy Luke knock on the side door of an old downtown house that has been divided into several apartments.

Stoker, a tough-talking 24-year military veteran, naturally assumes the bad-cop role. The more soft-spoken and younger Luke, who's in his first year as a parole officer, plays the good cop. The routine soon becomes evident.

Bill Munro, barefoot and wearing black jeans, a black T-shirt and a black Pink Floyd cap, opens the door to a cramped kitchen. A cat wanders in while a dog sits under the table in a kennel.

Munro served 12 years in prison for sexually abusing a child in 1993. He's been on parole since being released in 2005. He knows the drill.

Stoker and Luke usher Munro, a cigarette hanging from his lips, to the couch in his narrow living room. Marilyn Monroe memorabilia cover one wall. Rows of DVDs fill a bookshelf and are stacked on tables alongside several packs of Camels. Three computer screens illuminate a cluttered desk.

Luke immediately spots a long knife in a decorated sheath on the Marilyn shelf.

"That's a third-degree felony, Bill," Stoker says, taking the 16-inch-long weapon from Luke and tucking it into the back of her pants.

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS