SHERBURN - Eleven residents turned out Thursday evening to hear an informational meeting regarding a level three predatory offender who recently relocated to Sherburn.
"The only point I really want to make is that, as you will learn here tonight, we do have other sex offenders in our community," said Sherburn/Welcome Police Chief Brad Hughes. "It's just that none have risen to the level of this one.
"I would strongly caution against harassing any of these people," the chief said. "They have rights, and if they are receiving harassment and threats because of these notifications, we could have these notifications taken away, and none of us want to see this law go away."
Mark Bli-ven of the Minnesota Department of Corrections gave a presentation regarding Ronald John Madsen, the level three offender who now lives on South Main Street in Sherburn. But Bliven also revealed that Madsen is not the only predatory offender living in town.
"There are 86 total offenders living in Martin County," he said. "There are five registered offenders in Sherburn and four in Welcome."
Offenders required to register with the state have been charged with a crime designated as a predatory offense, such as criminal sexual conduct, false imprisonment and kidnapping.
"We focus on the behavior," Bliven said. "They don't even need to be convicted of that crime, such as they end up pleading down to a lesser charge, so they aren't a convicted sex offender, but they may still need to register as a predatory offender."
In some cases, the offender has served all of his court sentence and is not on any sort of probation, which is the case with Madsen.
"He can go wherever he wants," Bliven said. "The only thing he is required to do is keep local law enforcement informed of his address, his workplace, what vehicles he drivers, any secondary addresses. If he fails to keep up his registration requirements, he can be charged with a new crime."
Failing to register as a predatory offender in Minnesota is a felony offense. In Madsen's case, he is required to register as an offender for the rest of his life.
Madsen's criminal past begins in 2005, when he was convicted of criminal sexual conduct involving juvenile males ages 14-16, which involved taking pictures of a nude male juvenile. He received probation for the crime, but he was charged in 2006 with possession of child pornography involving juvenile males. He was convicted of violating his probation and spent 13 months in prison. In 2010, he failed to register as a predatory offender and was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but the conviction was appealed and withdrawn.
"He was released from custody in 2011 and he is not under correctional supervision," Bliven said.
Bliven also described Madsen's predatory behavior, which involves befriending teenage males. In the case in 2005, Madsen supplied the boys with alcohol and marijuana before committing the sexual offense.
"If we have kids associating with adults like that, where the adult is giving them gifts, hosting parties for them, that should raise a red flag," Bliven said. "Pay attention to who your kids are hanging out with."
Bliven also pointed out that the most dangerous predatory offenders are those who have not been caught.
"About 90 percent of sex abuse of children, the abuser is someone that is known and trusted," Bliven said. "No matter how much we focus on the level three offenders, if we don't focus on other members of the community, those offenders out there that we don't know about, then we are missing the bulk of them ... [Madsen] has to know he can't be anonymous in this town; he knows he can't get away with too much. Our biggest problem is the ones who haven't been caught yet.
After the meeting, those in attendance offered their thoughts:
"It was informative, but I wanted more details, like what kind of car [Madsen] drives," said Arlys Meyer. "But it was good to make us more aware of watching out for our community."
"It was nice to have a face, so we recognize him if he's hanging around the park," said Amy Ballard. "Having a teenager, I realize I never really did 'stranger danger,' and it's spooky that these perpetrators could look like anyone, like their grampa."