Residents wary of sex-offender home in Norwich

Norwich - The Broad Street Neighborhood Watch is becoming active again with the discovery this summer of a state-subsidized sex-offender residence at 152 Broad St., according to the group's chairwoman.

The group will hold an open meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the community room at the Latham Science Center at Norwich Free Academy with Norwich police, city officials and state legislators to not only discuss the 152 Broad St. residence but a second apartment house at 77 Union St., where two sex offenders currently are living.

According to the state Sex Offender Registry, 19 sex offenders live in a dozen locations within a half-mile radius of the house at 152 Broad St., where three offenders now reside.

'We want to protect our children'

"We want to keep the neighborhood safe," said Stacey Moed-Klein, the watch chairwoman. "We have many, many children and many, many bus stops. We want to protect our children, just like everyone."

Moed-Klein said neighbors regularly check the state Sex Offender Registry, available online at the Department of Emergency Services website, but with the high turnover of sex offenders living at 152 Broad St. and elsewhere, it's difficult to keep up to date.

Initially, when the nonprofit group Connections, Inc. leased the house in 2013, four sex offenders were placed there on state rental subsidies through the REACH - Reentry Assisted Community Housing - program.

After publicity surrounding neighbors' discovery of the placements this past summer, those four moved out of the house - two of them to nearby Union Street - and two different sex offenders moved into the house.

As of Sunday morning, three sex offenders were listed as living at 152 Broad St. The most recent resident is Robert Douchette, 42, who was released from prison Nov. 13.

Douchette had pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault for repeatedly raping his former girlfriend, binding her wrists and threatening her with a knife in January of 2010 in New London. She was finally able to escape and ran to a neighbor's house naked and screaming. He was sentenced in December of 2011 to five years and three months in prison and five years of special parole.

The registry also listed Carlos Cruz, 46, convicted in 2008 of risk of injury to a minor, as living at 152 Broad St. But the registry posted a "non-compliant" alert on Cruz for failure to verify his address.

Norwich police Sgt. Peter Camp, the department's community policing supervisor, issued a press release announcing the creation of the new neighborhood watch group that will cover Broad, Treadway, Warren and Spaulding street neighborhoods. Camp said the watch group will be supported by Norwich police.

"We encourage the participation of all residents, business owners as well as property owners of the Broad, Treadway, Warren and Spaulding streets neighborhood area," Camp wrote in the press release. "Not only does a neighborhood watch allow citizens to help in the fight against crime, it is also an opportunity for communities to bond through service."

State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, whose district includes Norwich, is expected to attend Tuesday's meeting. Osten organized a recent meeting with city officials and state Department of Corrections interim Commissioner Scott Semple. State Reps. Emmett Riley, D-Norwich, and Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, both of whom represent portions of the neighborhood watch area, also have been invited to the meeting.

Mayor Deberey Hinchey and city police leaders are expected to attend.

Also on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting is discussion of child and family safety, police updates and blight issues. For information about the meeting, contact Camp at (860) 886-5561, Ext. 6 or by email at pcamp@cityofnorwich.org.

c.bessette@theday.com

Twitter: @Bessettetheday

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