High-risk sex offender released in Burlington - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

High-risk sex offender released in Burlington

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Richard Laws Richard Laws

Sue Russell's hands still fidget. Her mind still wanders.

"Bringing this back after 23 years, a lot of things come back. There's a lot of triggers," said Russell.

She can't forget the day her car broke down and a total stranger stopped, dragged her into the woods, raped and nearly beat her to death.

"Communities are engaged. Victims are empowered," said Russell.

She's emerged from the despair of that brutal attack to become a hero for her Mad River Valley community where hundreds line up to support her.

"It's concerning but I think we've done a lot in this community to notify people," said Russell.

That notification went out Thursday morning when the man convicted of attacking Russell walked free.

Richard Laws met with local police in Burlington where the Vermont Sex Offender registry confirms he plans to live.

Sgt. Michael Warren with the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations spent three hours with Laws Thursday morning outlining expectations and helping him get the basics for life on the outside.

"He does not want any issues. He does not want to get arrested and put back in jail," said Warren.

Laws picked up a cellphone and P.O. box, and then left with a female friend who lives in Winooski.

"He knows that he needs to contact the Vermont Crime Information Center by the end of the day today and notify them of where he's going to be staying," said Warren.

He won't be staying in Waitsfield where his victim, Russell, has a 10-year restraining order dictating that her attacker stays out of the valley.

"This particular restraining order is the first of its kind," said Russell.

"The housing right now is unknown," said Warren.

A high-risk offender homeless in the Queen City has the University of Vermont notifying its students with a flier and police going door to door telling businesses of their new neighbor.

"People need to always be vigilant," said Warren.

Laws said he wanted help 23 years ago.

"I hope with the assistance of the sex offender course, I can find out why I did this awful thing," said Laws in 1991.

That's assistance he never accepted behind bars and law enforcement says he now has little help adjusting to life on the outside.

"He maxed out his sentence and there's not a whole lot in place to make sure he's successful," said Warren.

Warren said Laws emphasized to him several times that his intention was to stay out of jail, out of trouble and out of the news. But after 23 years in jail, Warren says Laws was surprised at how much has changed.

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