Violent sex offender’s release has community stressed

Posted at 8:34 PM, Nov 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-06 20:34:05-05

NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va (WTVR)--The release of a violent sex offender has a community stressed.

"Pretty much what they are telling us is there is nothing we can do," says Gary Simmons, a member of the Board of Supervisors. He is referring to the violent sex offender about to be released into the local community.

The Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation houses and treats some of the states most violent sex offenders.

Now five years after it opened its doors in Nottoway County, a resident of the facility will be released and allowed to live in nearby Crewe.

The problem is, county leaders say from the beginning, when the facility was being considered, they were assured by state officials that offenders would not be released into the nearby community.

"We think they should stay behind their agreement, that they would be released back to where they were sentenced," says Nottoway County Administrator Ronnie Roark.

The spokeswoman for the Department of Behavioral Health says they have no record of a verbal agreement with county leaders.

"The fear when this center was placed here, was that they would just turn these prisoners out and they would just stay in Crewe," Gary Simmons says.

Since 2008, 61 sex offenders have completed treatment at VCBR.

They were released and allowed to live across Virginia but none have stayed in Nottoway County.

"A violent sex offender near a Community Dance School where little girls and their mothers and grandmothers come, it concerns us  greatly," Ann Carrington, who owns a local dance school, says.

Carrington says she was told the released offender will live within fifty-yards of her Dance School.

Which concerns some area citizens like Helen Simmons.

"It's really disheartening because this is the way you find out, you live right here and you don't know anything about it until actually this happens, until the news crew comes into your small town," Simmons says.

There's nothing in Virginia law that prohibits even a violent sex offender from being released into any town or county.

And while most people understand the released offenders need a place to live, they have strong opinions where they should live.

"They do but we would rather they go back to their community, rather than everyone come straight out of prison and decide to live right here where the prison is,' Simmons says.

The level of supervision for former VCBR residents who have been conditionally released is extremely high,says Meghan McGuire. " It includes GPS locators and special training for their probation officers on how to supervise SVPs."

Although VCRB representatives were unable to discuss information about specific individuals because of federal health care privacy laws, they spoke with CBS 6 generally.