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Good Judgement Prevails

posted Mar 1, 2013, 9:28 AM by Lara K

3/1/2013 8:29:00 AM
Sex offender residency exemptions granted
By Lydia Statz
Union staff writer

JEFFERSON - The City of Jefferson granted two exemptions to its new Sex Offender Residency Ordinance Thursday.

John Sampe and Daniel Mc­William appeared before the new Sex Offender Residence Board at the Jefferson Police Department to appeal a denial of residency based on an ordinance passed in December that forbids registered sex offenders from residing within 1,500 feet of schools or other areas where children congregate.

The board granted both men an exemption to the ordinance, allowing them to relocate only to the specific address indicated in the appeal. Sampe will reside at 502 S. Center Ave., while Mc­William will live at 216 E. Milwaukee St.

Jefferson's ordinance was modeled after those already in affect in other cities. It prevents a registered sex offender from establishing a temporary or permanent residents within 1,500 feet of private or public schools; public parks, parkways or parkland; recreational trails; public play grounds; the public library; athletic fields used by children; licensed daycare centers; specialized schools for children, including but not limited to gymnastics academies, dance academies or music schools; and children's group homes or foster homes.

Several exceptions already are written into the ordinance to allow for an offender confined to a jail within the prohibited area, an offender who established residence in the area before the ordinance went into effect, or if the gathering place opened after the offender established residence.

Sampe and McWilliam filed the appeals last week, claiming they did not present a danger to the public and that the ordinance prevents them from settling down with their families.

Speaking to the board, Sampe presented his criminal history, including the 1994 second-degree sexual assault that placed him on the state's registered sex offender list, and made his case for an allowance to live within a restricted area.

"It was not my choice to return to this county," Sampe said. "I have family up north, but I was court-ordered here."

"All I have ever wanted is not to be judged by my record, but my contribution to this family," Sampe continued.

He is a father of one and stepfather to two children with his fiancee.

"With your blessing, I will be able to raise my family in this wonderful community," he added.

Sampe's family and friends, including his fiancée Victoria Liss, spoke in testament to his character and questioned the applicability of the ordinance.

"This ordinance is to protect the health and safety of children, but he is not a pedophile," said Liss.

Concerns were raised during the public comment portion of the hearing about a discrepancy between the history Sampe presented and the notification that was sent to the neighborhood to which Sampe will relocate.

It was determined that concern regarded a juvenile case and could not be discussed in an open meeting.

Sampe's exemption was granted by a unanimous vote of the board, and he was given legal permission to reside at 502 Center Avenue immediately.

Daniel McWilliam then addressed the board in regard to his appeal. He appears on the sex offender registry following a second-degree sexual assault of a child.

McWilliam, now 32, was 18 when he was convicted of sexual contact with his girlfriend, whom he said he thought was 17, but who turned out to be 15.

He served 10 years in prison following that crime.

"I have kept up on my registration, never failed to register once," said McWilliam.

McWilliam is employed at Master Mold in Johnson Creek, is married, and has two children.

"If I am refused to live at 216 E. Milwaukee, it's tearing a family apart," he said. "I don't want any problems with any police officer in Jefferson."

Concerns about children in the neighborhood were raised by Cathy Radtke and Jody Lindemoen, who reside in the area and were notified of McWilliam's presence via mailing by the Jefferson Police Department.

"There are a lot of kids that walk there," said Radtke. "I realize that he's done his debt to society, but I just want to be sure that our little corner of the world is safe."

"Milwaukee Avenue is the walking bridge," said Lindemoen. "All of the kids from West, and the middle school to the high school, use Milwaukee Avenue. It's highly, highly, used. I think that they should find somewhere else."

Sarah McWilliam, Daniel's sister, provided a character witness for the board.

"Dan served 10 years in prison. He had time to think about it," she said. "Since then, he hasn't had any trouble. He's done everything right since then. I think that's he's grown up a lot."

The board granted Mc­William's exemption unanimously, and he is permitted to reside at 216 E. Milwaukee Ave. effective immediately.

The Sampe and McWilliam appeals were the first filed under the appeal process defined by the Jefferson Sex Offender Residency Ordinance.

The Sex Offender Residence Board meets the final Thursday of every month to hear any filed appeals.