Around 60 people showed up at Jenkins' City Hall, June 28, to hear about a Level 3 sex offender who moved to the area on June 29.
Dennis Anthony Lee, 45, formerly of Pine River, will be living on the 5000 block of County Road 16 in Jenkins Township, and is on intensive supervised release after serving a prison sentence for criminal sexual conduct. Lee has a history of sexual conduct with female victims, age 6-20. All of his victims knew him.
Residents within a 1.5-mile radius of Lee's address received a notification letter from Pequot Police Chief Eric Klang. Notice of the meeting was also published in local newspapers.
Attendees of Thursday night's meeting included residents of Jenkins and Wilson Townships, Pequot Lakes, and the surrounding area.
Michele Murphy, community notification coordinator from the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), provided information to attendees about Lee, his criminal history and appearance, and the Community Notification Act - which classifies risk levels for predatory offenders and determines how widely information about an offender is shared.
Level 3 offenders are determined as having the highest risk of reoffending.
Lee is subject to unannounced checks from DOC agents and local police officers.
While he is on intensive supervised release he must complete a sexual offender treatment program and is not allowed to have direct or indirect contact with minors. He can't be on social-networking sites like Facebook, nor can he purchase or possess sexually explicit material.
He is allowed to buy groceries, conduct banking, visit a Laundromat, attend church and attend medical and dental appointments.
Lee does have a job, but not one that will put him in contact with minors.
He will remain under correctional supervision until March 13, 2021.
"The attendance here tonight is a clear indication of how much you care for your community," Murphy said.
Lee has a history of engaging in sexual conduct with victims (female, age 6-20) that has included fondling and penetration.
He was convicted in 1994 of misdemeanor fourth-degree criminal sexual contact in Washington County and was sentenced to 15 days in Washington County Jail and 10 years supervised probation.
In 1996 Lee was convicted of second-degree and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, both felonies, in Ramsey County. He was sentenced to 36 months.
He was convicted on two counts of felony second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Cass County in 2006. He was sentenced to two concurrent sentences: 39 months for the first count (credit for time served for 268 days) and 98 months for the second count with conditional release after confinement of 10 years.
Then in June of 2010, while still in prison, he was convicted of felony fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for a crime committed in March 1997.
He was sentenced to 32 months in prison, with credit for time served, and conditional release after confinement of 10 years.
According to Minnesota state statue, felony offenders' sentences consist of two parts - a minimum term that consists of two-thirds of the executed sentence; and a supervised-release term equal to one-third of the sentence.
A Department of Corrections review committee determines risk levels of sexual offenders based on a number of factors, including risk of re-offense. There is not a cookie-cutter approach to assigning levels, Murphy said. A number of things are considered including the inmates' treatment records, juvenile records, history of any harassment, and social and familial relationships. Level 1 is the lowest public risk, Level 2 is moderate public risk, and Level 3 is the highest public risk with the greatest likelihood to reoffend.
Currently there are six registered predatory offenders in Pequot Lakes (including Levels 1-3.) Information on individuals with Level 1 and 2 risk levels are not shared publicly. Levels 1 and 2 designations require notification to victims and witnesses to the crime, area law enforcement, and certain organizations such as schools and daycare centers. Only Level 3 offenders trigger a community notification meeting, like the one in Jenkins. Local law enforcement is responsible for community notification.
As of January 1, there were 7,300 predatory offenders assigned a risk level in Minnesota. Approximately 239 of them are Level 3s.
Following are the number of predatory sex offenders (Levels 1-3) in surrounding counties: Crow Wing 193; Cass 125; Mille Lacs 134; Morrison 108; and Aitkin 63.
In Minnesota, 2,315 sexual offenders were released from prison between 2003-2006. In 2010, the reconviction rate was approximately 3.3 percent, according to Murphy.
The number of reconvictions has decreased substantially over the years due to a number of factors: enhanced sentencing for offenders, type and duration of supervision, and improved community notification, according to Murphy.
If someone in the public witnesses suspicious behavior of any individual, they are encouraged to call 9-1-1 and report it. Do not approach or confront an individual acting suspiciously. Community vigilance and reporting improves the chances of criminals being caught, Murphy explained.
"We need to all watch out for each other and protect each other," said Pequot Lakes Police Chief Eric Klang. "Know who your kids are friends with," he added.
Murphy also offered some safety tips for parents:
Know people your children spend time with
Listen to children and pay attention if they don't want to be around someone
Notice anyone who provides or gives special favors to a child
Educate teens about the dangers of sexual assault
Educate children about personal body safety and establishing boundaries
More warning signs of possible child sexual abuse are provided by the Stop It Now! Child Sex Abuse Prevention and Protection Center online: www.stopitnow.org/warning_signs_child_behavior
A Level 3 Sex Offender Search is located on the Minnesota Department of Corrections website: http://www.doc.state.mn.us/level3/Search.asp
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