Steamboat Springs At a public meeting tonight, the Routt County Sheriff's Office will release the name, address and photo of a man classified as a sexually violent predator who has moved to the county.
Residents should be thoughtful about how they use that information, state and local officials said.
"It can be a problem if people get the impression that all they have to do is attend the meeting and find out who the sex offender is, and they will be safe," said Peggy Heil, chief of clinical research for the Colorado Department of Corrections. "The people who you are most at risk from are people who you know, not a stranger."
Colorado law requires the public be notified when someone classified by the state as a sexually violent predator has moved into the community. Tonight's public meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.
Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall will not release the perpetrator's name prior to the meeting to protect the integrity of the process and prevent uninformed retaliation. Wall said the meeting involves an education component before information about the individual sex offender is released.
"I'm nervous about names being thrown around without anyone having the benefit of the whole process," he said. "I am very sensitive to this issue and how the community will react."
Though Wall would not release the name, there are five people registered as sex offenders on the Routt County registered sex offenders Web site. One of the men, Ronald Eugene Noel, registered Oct. 31, 2006 and is listed as a transient. He was convicted in 2000 of attempted first-degree sexual assault in Oregon.
Wall would not say whether the public meeting concerned Noel. However, Wall has said previously that the man's crime was committed in Oregon.
It is important the public not harass or bother the offender, said Tamika Payne, executive director for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
"We need to give them the ability to rehabilitate," she said. "Torturing them will not help rehabilitate and will most likely increase the chance of recidivism."
Often retaliation against the offender will force them to go underground.
"That will probably make that person more unstable and as a result, more dangerous," Heil said. "To support them into a safer lifestyle is the safest option for everybody."
Some debate why public notification is required of sex offenders but not for other violent crimes.
"I think it's because of the harm that is caused by the sexual offense," Heil said. "The victim is very traumatized from the experience and can suffer very long-term effects."
Typically, sex crimes are difficult to address and correct, Heil said.
"It took 16 years on average for the perpetrators in prison from the first time they started sexual offender behavior to the first time they came to the attention of the criminal justice system," Heil said. "They have more variety in their sexual deviation behavior, and higher numbers of offenses than is typically disclosed in criminal records."
Sex offender recidivism rates are a factor, Payne said.
"We do know that sexual predators have up to 100 victims and the treatment is so important," she said, "but so is educating the community."
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