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Notorious sex offender set to be released from Vermont prison

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 11:53 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2021 at 5:17 PM EDT
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ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) - Police have issued a warning to the public that one of Vermont’s most notorious sex offenders is set to be released from prison.

Craig Yandow spent the past two decades behind bars for a violent attack on a woman who was walking down a Burlington street.

He’s moving to Essex next Wednesday.

Craig Yandow
Craig Yandow(Courtesy: Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations)

Local law enforcement is taking this situation extremely seriously. The rape happened more than 20 years ago, but police say Yandow still poses a potential danger to residents, especially adult women who would be his primary target if he were to re-offend.

“Of all the sexual assault investigations I was involved in during that point in my career, clearly probably the most brutal, most horrific I’ve seen,” said Tim Charland, a former Burlington police detective.

Even 25 years later, Charland says he clearly remembers the disturbing details of the Yandow case.

Charland led the Burlington Police Department’s investigation into the case in 1996 and 1997. He recalls how the heinous crime rattled the Queen City.

“Had it not been for a neighbor’s dog, quite possibly the victim could have perished from this event,” Charland said.

Yandow, 26 at the time of the crime, was convicted in 1997 of aggravated sexual assault.

He stalked, attacked, raped a stranger, and then beat her unconscious on that frigid February night in 1996.

Now, Yandow has paid his debt to society.

For the past three weeks, the Essex Police Department has been preparing for Yandow to move to town.

“What I would like the community to know is he is going to be living here, and they just need to be mindful of their surroundings,” Essex Police Chief Ron Hoague said. “If they see him, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s involved in criminal activity, but certainly if they suspect that he is, we would appreciate knowing about that.”

Since Yandow served his maximum sentence of 24 years behind bars, he will not be on probation, meaning police won’t keep tabs on his whereabouts.

“He will have the same rights as any other citizen,” Hoague said. “That’s also to be free from harassment from the police and law enforcement.”

The chief suggests familiarizing yourself with the photo of Yandow, who is now 51.

He is categorized as a high-risk sex offender, which is calculated using multiple factors including age, gender, behavior and relationships.

But experts insist the designation isn’t necessarily cause for alarm.

“There’s a general misconception in the world that all these sex offenders are extremely likely to re-offend,” said Thomas Powell, a forensic psychologist.

Powell says despite the egregious nature of Yandow’s crime, data demonstrates the probability of a reoffense is actually more like 10%-15%.

“The biggest thing in a case like Yandow’s is age,” Powell said. “He’s gone from a testosterone-poisoned age of 26 to an old man at 51. And old men don’t re-offend nearly as often.”

If the perpetrator has participated in a treatment program, Powell says the likelihood is even lower, but Yandow declined counseling.

Reporter Christina Guessferd: Is that a red flag?

Thomas Powell: It’s an important red flag, but it doesn’t necessarily move him from being a 10% to 15% risk to an 85% risk.

“The future, only Mr. Yandow knows,” Charland said.

The Essex Police Department and Essex Community Justice Center will host a virtual public meeting Friday, Oct. 8, 6-7 p.m., to answer questions from the community.

Meeting Information:

Friday, Oct. 8, 6-7 p.m.

Via Microsoft Teams

https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_NjRhZWRhNDMtY2IwNi00MDFlLWEyN2QtMTJjNTRiMjIzMjI3%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%22ecf8d528-f923-4497-9342-6544108d0637%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%22bb04a4b4-f6df-4f8f-8096-a0f9dd013bca%22%7d

Or call in (audio only)

+1 802-377-3784,,499960612# United States, Middlebury

Phone Conference ID: 499 960 612#

Those with questions about access to this meeting before it starts, can email epd.info@essex.org or call 802-878-1335.

Essex police say they will record the meeting for anyone who misses it and post the link on their website afterward.

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