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State paid for hotel room where sex offender continued to exploit children

Posted at 11:38 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 04:49:41-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- In March 2011, Richard Shaffer was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing a toddler family member, and for 15 counts of possessing child pornography.

He was released with time served in July 2020, but because he had nowhere to go, per its policy, the state paid for his Charlottesville hotel room, where an unannounced visit landed him back behind bars.

"I think this is a story that shocks the conscience on a number of different levels,” said Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire. “You start out first when he comes out of prison, the state pays for his hotel room, but he continues to exploit children. What do I mean by that? He knows he's supposed to get a job, knows he's not to use a computer, knows he can't look up child pornography and knows he's not to have a social media account."

Shaffer was allegedly caught by his probation officer with an unauthorized cell phone that included an unregistered Facebook account, photos of the 2011 victim and evidence that Shaffer actively looked for child porn on the internet. The probation officer also noted that Shaffer had taken steps to wipe data from the phone.

"Some of the terms are graphic and tell you what he was looking for: doctor of groping pre-teens, pre-teen nude,” said McGuire. “You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what he was looking for. I give credit to the Probation Department. They were on him."

Shaffer is one of several sex offenders released recently where the state was required to pay for their lodging.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Kinney tells CBS 6 that the state has provided temporary emergency housing for released inmates for decades.

She said the alternative to emergency housing would be letting a supervisee remain homeless, which can be more dangerous for the community.

Kinney said contrary to what was implied by McGuire’s press release on the matter, hotel addresses can be listed on the state police registry just as residential addresses are.

"What I'm telling people is before you stay in a hotel, pull up the sex offender registry, type in the hotels address and check it," said McGuire.

The Department of Corrections confirms that Richard Shaffer's hotel room was paid for until Nov. 7 of last year.

A judge sentenced Shaffer on Thursday to four more years in prison for the probation violation.