"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.
Thursday, December 12 2013 7:45 AM EST2013-12-12 12:45:10 GMT
Erika LeBlanc and Alyson Rochefort are in the kitchen with us this morning making rugelach. Dough: 1 lb unsalted butter 1 lb cream cheese 1/2 cup sour cream 4 cups all-purpose flour Filling: 1 cupMore >>
Erika LeBlanc and Alyson Rochefort are in the kitchen with us this morning making rugelach.More >>
Thursday, December 12 2013 9:24 AM EST2013-12-12 14:24:25 GMT
Family and friends of victims Amanda Murphy and Jason Timmons -- gathered in Wilder Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to mourn the loss of the recently engaged couple and their unborn child. MoreMore >>
Family and friends of victims Amanda Murphy and Jason Timmons gathered in Wilder Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to mourn the loss of the recently engaged couple and their unborn child.More >>
Thursday, December 12 2013 9:25 AM EST2013-12-12 14:25:33 GMT
Vermont State Police say they're looking for a thief who made off with 50 gallons of diesel fuel. Authorities say it happened Wednesday morning at a farm on Shoreham Depot Road in Shoreham. They say anMore >>
Vermont State Police say they're looking for a thief who made off with 50 gallons of diesel fuel.More >>
Thursday, December 12 2013 12:32 AM EST2013-12-12 05:32:39 GMT
Voting ends Thursday on a measure that could decide whether a major industrial wind project in the Northeast Kingdom moves forward. The Seneca Mountain project calls for 20 turbines on ridge lines inMore >>
Voting ends Thursday on a measure that could decide whether a major industrial wind project in the Northeast Kingdom moves forward.More >>
Wednesday, December 11 2013 5:19 PM EST2013-12-11 22:19:28 GMT
Police say they've caught the man wanted for three bank robberies in the Upper Valley. James Oberfeldt, 30, of Claremont, is currently jailed in Massachusetts on a drug charge. Police say he's been identifiedMore >>
Police say they've caught the man wanted for three bank robberies in the Upper Valley.More >>
Wednesday, December 11 2013 6:54 PM EST2013-12-11 23:54:10 GMT
Two men are behind bars after a burglary in St. Albans. Police arrested James Perron, 27, of St. Albans, and Eric Walsh, 34, Tuesday for allegedly stealing a safe containing $15,000 in cash. It happenedMore >>
Two men are behind bars in connection with a burglary in St. Albans.More >>
Wednesday, December 11 2013 7:53 PM EST2013-12-12 00:53:13 GMT
Two Plattsburgh State students are under arrest in connection with a brawl outside a fraternity house. It happened last month outside the Alpha Chi Rho (AXP) house on Brinkerhoff Street. Police say itMore >>
Authorities say allegations of a sexual assault in Plattsburgh led to a brawl. Now, some fraternity brothers are facing charges and more could be coming.More >>