Thursday, December 10, 2015

Rural Wisconsin town trying to fight placement of Milwaukee sex offender in its community

A rural Wisconsin town is at odds with urban Milwaukee County over where a violent sex offender will live, Bruce Vielmetti reports for the Journal Sentinel. While released offenders are typically placed in the county where they committed the offense, Milwaukee County residents complained they didn't want the Milwaukee sex offender in their neighborhood. Chris Rhymes in 1988 was sentenced to 26 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman and beating her with a tire iron.

When state officials said in October that they couldn't find anywhere else for Rhymes to live, "District Judge William Brash approved a placement anywhere in any county—not just Milwaukee County," Vielmetti writes. "Brash has since been appointed to the Court of Appeals, so it now falls to Circuit Judge Mark Sanders to approve or deny" the placement of the sex offender in Fond du Lac County in rural Eldorado, which has a population of 1,500. Placement will be decided at a hearing Dec. 16. (Journal Sentinel graphic)

About 200 residents of Eldorado packed "its community center Monday evening to largely voice disapproval of the placement of Clint Rhymes in this township," Justin Kabbes reports for Fond Du Lac news. Residents expressed safety concerns of having a violent sex offender in their small town, and Fond du Lac County Sheriff Mick Fink said limited resources in patrolling a sprawling county (720 square miles of land) meant "he couldn't guarantee a speedy response to the town if an incident involving Rhymes occurred."

State Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) "said people choose to live in small communities like Eldorado to escape problems like this," Kabbes writes. "Gudex said ordinances in Milwaukee are written in a way that significantly limit where sex offenders can be placed." He said he is working with Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) "on legislation to ensure violent sex offenders who serve their prison terms are placed back in the communities they originally resided." 

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