"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.
Friday, May 24 2013 7:17 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:17:06 GMT
It was a storm that left residents with more damage than they could have ever imagined. "The basement has about 13 inches of water," said Bob Genter of Underhill. And preparing for the aftermath of theMore >>
Flash floods left destruction across the region. And the rain is not over. Heavy downpours left some people trapped in their neighborhoods as emergency crews work to try to clear the roads.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:54 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:54:18 GMT
Vermont State Police say the following roads have been closed due to flooding:UNDERHILL: VERMONT ROUTE 15, CILLEYHILL POKER HILL ROAD NORTH UNDERHILL STATION ROAD PAIGE ROAD DAUDLIN ROAD BROWNS TRACE,More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:20 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:20:50 GMT
As the cleanup gets underway from Thursday night's flash flooding, the focus shifts now to the broader impacts of rising rivers from around the region. All the rain so far and more to come is running intoMore >>
All the rain is running into larger streams and rivers that are moving rapidly toward flood stage.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:44 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:44:50 GMT
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend. So far, the impact has mainly been seen in roadMore >>
Heavy rains have caused more flooding problems around our region, and the situation could get worse as the rain continues to fall over the holiday weekend.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:51 AM EDT2013-05-24 13:51:55 GMT
Over the river and throught the woods isn't just the way to grandma's house, its the way a lot of people are having to travel just to make it to their front door. Dormant brooks and sleepy streams turnedMore >>
Strong rains Thursday flooded roads in Essex.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:25 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:25:14 GMT
A rainy Vermont City Marathon forecast isn't slowing down runners or organizers. "Well, we're going to make some liquid sunshine out of all of this rain. That's the only choice we've got right now," saidMore >>
The countdown is on to this weekend's Vermont City Marathon and final preps are underway. Those finishing touches are coming in the rain, but organizers say the weather isn't slowing things down.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:35 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:35:15 GMT
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex. The parade is held annually on the Saturday morning of the holiday weekend. But after all the rain and flooding damageMore >>
The bad weather has forced the postponement of the annual Memorial Day parade in Essex.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 12:48 PM EDT2013-05-24 16:48:57 GMT
The heavy rains have left a lot of people with flooded basements. We want to remind people of potential dangers before tackling that mess. First, shut off power to all basement appliances. Don't touchMore >>
The heavy rains have left a lot of people with flooded basements. We want to remind people of potential dangers before tackling that mess.More >>