Montville says state violating January Center agreement

Montville - The placement of convicted sex offenders into two state-funded homes in Norwich is a breach of a signed agreement between the town and the state, some town officials argue.

Dana McFee, a town council member who led a scrappy but ultimately losing battle against construction of the January Center - the sex offender treatment facility on the grounds of the local state prison - said language in the agreement prohibits offenders from outside the region from staying in the region.

"For them to turn around and start putting them in Norwich - it might as well be Montville," McFee said. "It's a slap in the face. What we feared is coming true."

Norwich officials already are up in arms since learning the state has rented two homes in the city for placement of sex offenders leaving the January Center, which is run by The Connection Inc. Three offenders are already living there. More are expected at the multi-family homes on Taftville-Occum Road in Occum and on Central Avenue in Greeneville, homes that locals say are too close to public parks that are frequented by children.

Public records show at least one of the offenders was arrested in Enfield and served a prison sentence for risk of injury to a minor and two counts of first-degree sexual assault. Information on a second man, who was sentenced to 38 years in prison in the 1990s for two counts of kidnapping and 14 counts of first-degree sexual assault, was not immediately available.

One of the three was convicted of crimes locally and served a prison sentence for second-degree sexual assault based on a 2003 arrest by state police in Montville. He also has convictions on weapons and drug-related charges based on arrests by New London police in 2007 and 2011, court records show.

McFee said there were personal assurances from state officials, including the DOC commissioner and members of the governor's staff, that offenders would return to their town of origin.

The letter of agreement, signed in 2011 by the town, DOC and Judicial Branch representatives, states that DOC or service provider "shall transport each program resident to his home community or other appropriate location."

"In no case will a program resident be released into the Town unless the Town is documented as the program resident's home community," or their family residence is in town and family members are involved in the resident's supervision, the agreement states.

DOC spokeswoman Karen Martucci argued that the DOC is not violating the terms of the agreement. Offenders are not being placed in Montville and the homes in Norwich fit the bill as "an appropriate location," she said.

Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel disagreed.

"Basically, the average layperson would assume by the language they would need to go back to their home town," McDaniel said. "My understanding is they are claiming the people are essentially homeless and don't have a home town. But it seems very clear, at the time, everyone's understanding was if you were a sex offender from Wallingford, you would go back to Wallingford - and I don't mean to pick on Wallingford.

"If they weren't from Norwich originally, they weren't supposed to go to Norwich," McDaniel said. "For them to change the rules midstream is disconcerting. There had better be a good reason - not because it is a matter of convenience or economics for the state."

Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom and other city officials and local representatives plan a meeting with a DOC representative Friday morning to discuss the issue.

Martucci said offenders can live where they choose if the residence is approved by the parole department, but often times, the restrictive nature of sexual offender parole forces them into shelters. The offenders in Norwich, she said, are transitioning back into society and are closely managed by parole officers.

"We are supportive of public safety and we'd like to sit down and discuss any of the issues," she said.

g.smith@theday.com

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