Deanna Judkins is going door-to-door warning her neighbors that a high-risk sex offender is now calling Hyde Park home.
"I have grandkids that ride their bike to my house," Judkins said. "They're not going to be riding their bike until we know where this guy is."
Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux says Timothy Szad, 53, moved in with a ministry member and they're living about a mile from Lamoille Union Middle and High School.
A Hyde Park father who didn't want WCAX News to share his name said, "I think that we're all well aware that when people get out of the system they have to go someplace, but when you find out it's going to be next door, it's really freaky."
Szad spent more than a decade behind bars for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Vermont boy. Corrections officials warned he's likely to reoffend.
"I told Mr. Szad that I personally was disgusted with that crime, but that wasn't going to keep me from doing my job," Sheriff Marcoux said.
Wednesday morning, Marcoux met with Szad, his pastor and the Hyde Park homeowner who's agreed to house him. The sheriff says Szad was cooperative, sharing his history, sexual triggers and ongoing plans for treatment.
"We can only act within the bounds of the laws as to what we can do," Marcoux said. "We're trying to think outside of the box as to how we can monitor this situation."
Police say Szad volunteered to check in with investigators on a daily basis and will submit to medical treatments to reduce his sexual urges.
Szad would not speak to us on camera.
"I don't want to say anything, thank you," Szad said.
But his pastor, Pete Fiske, read a statement: "Tim wants everyone to know that he does not want to reoffend and is doing everything that he can toward that goal."
Fiske has been helping ex-cons reintegrate into society for 22 years. He says establishing a support network is a critical step.
"When they have a network, like this, and they stick to it they will succeed. Without this supportive network the chances of succeeding are not good," Fiske said.
Szad served his maximum sentence, completed sex offender treatment in prison and is compliant with registry requirements. He's not on probation or parole and there are no restrictions on where he can live. But school officials have their concerns and are taking a proactive approach with parents to protect the nearly 2,000 students in the district.
"You can't bury your head in the sand. You can't ignore it; it's here; it's happening. It's not something we're accustomed to, but we need to know how to experience it in a way that keeps everybody safe," said Joseph Ciccolo, the superintendent of the Lamoille North Supervisory Union.
The message from police and the school district is to remain vigilant, not fearful. They say it's time for the community to keep a collective eye on the kids.
"Where are the kids being dropped off? Who's picking them up? What's going on in the backyard or the side yard? Is there a way we can go back to a time where the whole neighborhood worries about children and family and not just the parents of those particular kids," Ciccolo said.
Police have not released Szad's exact address fearing vigilante retaliation. Sheriff Marcoux says while this is an emotionally charged issue, he's warning folks not to take the law into their own hands. He says anyone with concerns should reach out to law enforcement or local community leaders.
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