Hearings Start on Toughening Sex Crimes - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hearings Start on Toughening Sex Crimes

Rich Kearney Rich Kearney
Brooke Bennett Brooke Bennett
Michael Jacques Michael Jacques

Montpelier, Vermont - August 7, 2008

"What the heck is going on in this system?" asked Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington County.

It's a question many Vermonters hope can be answered soon. Lawmakers are beginning hearings into how Vermont handles sex offenders following the death of Brooke Bennett.

"One of my concerns is that sex offenders are crafty and clever and I hope they will implement a law that will prevent this from happening to another child," said Catherine Metropoulos, the mother of a crime victim.

Brooke's uncle Michael Jacques is the prime suspect in her disappearance. For the first time, his probation officer spoke about why Jacques was released 7 years early from probation following a rape conviction.

"It truly is a tragedy and I welcome the opportunity again to make it better," said probation officer Rich Kearney.

Kearney says Jacques had done everything right; completing treatment, getting a job, and getting married.

"I myself was asked do I recommend discharge. What I said was he had been successful in complying with the terms and conditions of his probation and I saw no reason for him to be withheld from probation," explained Kearney.

But it turns out Kearney did not report to a judge that Jacques had violated probation by not re-registering as a sex offender in New Hampshire where he worked. Kearney says for Vermont offenders with New Hampshire jobs-- that's common.

"He was where he said he was, but for having the registration expired he wasn't avoiding supervision, he was where he needed to be," said Kearney.

"When I read the whole damn record I see truly the failure of our corrections system to talk to each other," said Sears.

"With the benefit of hindsight we were wrong, the department was wrong, and the prosecutor was right," said Vt. Corrections Commissioner Rob Hofmann.

"I think we are going to see changes. I think it's going to be more difficult to be a sex offender in Vermont," said Sears.

Corrections officials did point out that how sex offenders are dealt with has changed since the Jacques case. The department now conducts random lie detector tests and also says it has better ways to assess the risk to reoffend. The Douglas administration laid out several recommendations-- from tougher sentencing to using technology to better track offenders.

Click here for more information on the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on ways to toughen laws against sex crimes involving children, including court documents and legislative work on the issue.

Kristin Carlson - WCAX News

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Stowe couple dead in murder-suicide

    Stowe couple dead in murder-suicide

    Thursday, April 17 2014 6:52 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:52:04 GMT
    Police say two people found dead at a home in Stowe are believed to have died in a murder-suicide. Police are still not releasing their names or the cause of death, but they say the victims are adults. StoweMore >>
    A Stowe couple is dead after what police say was a murder-suicide. The news came as a shock to neighbors who say they never noticed any red flags.
    More >>
  • Leicester man charged with shootings appears in court

    Leicester man charged with shootings appears in court

    Thursday, April 17 2014 6:58 PM EDT2014-04-17 22:58:26 GMT
    A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury. Timothy Foley did appear in court Thursday in Middlebury. He wasn't there last time,More >>
    A man charged with shooting his neighbor and two Vermont State Police officers was in court Thursday in Middlebury.More >>
  • Woman sentenced in Vt. crash that killed motorcyclist

    Woman sentenced in Vt. crash that killed motorcyclist

    Thursday, April 17 2014 11:26 AM EDT2014-04-17 15:26:34 GMT
    A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to...More >>
    A 79-year-old woman accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist in Vermont last year has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless or negligent operation and has received a suspended sentence of six to 12 months.More >>
  • Man charged in Vt. cruiser crushing has June trial

    Man charged in Vt. cruiser crushing has June trial

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:34 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:34:06 GMT
    A Vermont man accused of crushing seven sheriffs' vehicles with a farm tractor is scheduled for trial in June.More >>
    A Vermont man accused of crushing seven sheriffs' vehicles with a farm tractor is scheduled for trial in June.More >>
  • Teen arrested in St. Albans bomb threat

    Teen arrested in St. Albans bomb threat

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:16 GMT
    A teenager has been arrested for making a bomb threat in St. Albans. Police say the threat was made to Project SOAR, an alternative school, Wednesday morning. The building was searched and no bomb wasMore >>
    Police say a teenager has been arrested for allegedly making a bomb threat to an alternative school in St. Albans.More >>
  • Missing Rutland woman found safe

    Missing Rutland woman found safe

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:05 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:05:01 GMT
    A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington. Police say Grace Maddaloni, 88, disappeared Wednesday after what they called a "disagreement." Because of her age and being in theMore >>
    A missing elderly woman from Rutland has been found safe in Burlington.More >>
  • Big buyer for Big Blue?

    Big buyer for Big Blue?

    Thursday, April 17 2014 7:07 PM EDT2014-04-17 23:07:19 GMT
    IBM and chip production may soon be parting ways. The Wall Street Journal reports that Big Blue is looking to unload three chipmaking plants-- two in upstate New York and its Vermont plant in Essex Junction.More >>
    With indications IBM may sell off its chipmaking plants, we talked to the company experts say may buy them. GlobalFoundries already has employees working at IBM in Essex Junction through a partnership, and experts say that could help the company decide whether the plant is a worthy investment.More >>
  • Darn Tough making darn good profits

    Darn Tough making darn good profits

    Thursday, April 17 2014 12:04 PM EDT2014-04-17 16:04:45 GMT
    Darn Tough appears to be making a darn good profit. The high-end sock manufacturer out of Northfield reports the first quarter of this year was its best ever, with revenues up almost 80 percent over theMore >>
    Vermont sock manufacturer Darn Tough reports the first quarter of this year was its best ever.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WCAX. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.