Monday, March 17, 2008

Most sex offenders know their victims

Most sex offenders, including a level three offender who moved to Wadena, know their victims, said several law enforcement officials.

This statement was reiterated throughout a community notification meeting Friday. About 70 people attended the meeting to learn more about Jeffrey Scott Meagher, 44, a convicted level three sex offender who moved to Wadena.

Representatives from the Department of Corrections, Wadena Police Department, Wadena County Sheriff’s Department, Todd-Wadena Community Corrections and Wadena County Attorney’s Office were available to answer questions and provide information about Meagher and on a more general level about sex offenders in the city, county and state.

Michéle Murphy, representing the Minnesota Department of Corrections, provided information about Meagher.

Meagher is living on Third Street northeast in Wadena. His sexual offenses included convictions for fondling a 12-year-old female in Todd County and fondling and penetration of a 5-year-old female in Stearns County.

His court-imposed sentence expired and Meagher was released from prison on April 1, 2007. He is not under correctional supervision because his sentence has expired, Murphy said. However, he is still required to register as a sex offender. He is required to register as a predatory offender with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension until Nov. 8, 2014, Murphy said.

“Minnesota law allows him to live in a community after completing his court imposed sentence,” she said.

“He has the right to choose where he lives. He has the right not to be harassed.”

If an offender is harassed, it is against the law. The state law that allows the public to know where sex offenders live could be revoked if there are problems with harassment, Murphy added.

Meagher is one of 53 sex offenders in Wadena County. Of the 53 in the county, 26 live in the city of Wadena.

Citizens had several questions about Meagher specifically.

One person wondered if citizens could have information about where Meagher was working and what kind of car he drove.

That information is protected, Murphy said. But law enforcement has that information so he can be monitored.

Wadena County Deputy Amy Ament monitors sex offenders in Wadena County twice a year by
taking updated pictures, checking to make sure they are living where they say they are and tracking what kind of car they drive. The county is only required to check on sex offenders once a year but Wadena County checks twice a year, said Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr.

Some in the audience wondered why Meagher was no longer under supervision once he was assigned a level three risk level when before, he had been released as a level two offender and under supervision. Murphy explained that when he was released as a level two offender, he was under supervision because his sentence hadn’t expired yet. When he returned to prison, he completed his sentence and then was released.

People in the audience were concerned that Meagher was not under supervision and could go anywhere he wanted to, such as the swimming pool.

County Attorney Kyra Ladd told the group that during her two years as Wadena County’s prosecutor, she has charged out about two dozen criminal sexual conduct cases.

“Not a single case was the perpetrator a stranger to the victim,” she said.

The offenders were known to the victims.

“Being aware of your surroundings and who you let into your family groups and your friend groups becomes very important,” Ladd said.

Wadena Police Chief Bruce Uselman reminded those in the audience that there are others in the community who have been convicted of violent crimes. Also, there are other level one and level two sex offenders in the city of Wadena and Wadena County. Photos and information about those offenders is not available for the community to know about.

“It is nice to be able to have this available to us,” said Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr.

“It’s a rare occasion when Mike and I can stand in front of you and say, ‘here’s a picture of a person. They’re not currently being charged with anything and they’ve served their time,’” Uselman added.

Murphy emphasized the importance of talking with kids about this.

“Get to know your children’s friends, their friend’s parents,” she said. “Know the people your children are spending time with.”

About 90 percent of sex offenders are known to their victims, she said.

At Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School, third-graders participate in the Red Flag Green Flag program to learn about appropriate and inappropriate touches. That is another way for children to learn about this subject.

Another person asked why Meagher decided to move to Wadena.

Law enforcement weren’t allowed to say specifically why he moved to the community but said he was familiar with the area. They emphasized that he can choose where he wants to live, like anyone else.

Meagher’s timeline


• Meagher is convicted of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, a gross misdemeanor, in Todd County. The offense involved a 12-year-old female, who knew him. Contact included fondling. Meagher received probation for this offense.


• Meagher is convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony. The offense involved contact with a 5-year-old female, who knew him. Contact included fondling and penetration. He used his position of authority to gain compliance. He received probation for this offense. Meagher then violated his probation and his prison sentence was executed.


• Meagher is released from prison on Nov. 9, 2004. He was assigned a level two risk level and was under intensive supervised release.


• On July 24, 2006, Meagher’s supervised release was revoked and he was sent back to prison. It was revoked because he had contact with minors. The contact was not physical but he wasn’t allowed to talk to children or have any contact.


• On April 1, 2007, Meagher was re-released from prison and assigned a level three risk, categorized as a higher risk of re-offending. He had completed his sentence at that time and has not been under correctional supervision since then.


• Meagher moves to Wadena and lives on Third Street northeast.

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