Convicted sex offender Richard Laws moved from Barre to Huntington and his victim, Sue Russell, Warren, did not receive notification of the move, as is her right in Vermont.
When Laws was released this spring, he listed his residence as Burlington/Williston. When he moved to Barre this summer, Russell was also notified. Per Vermont statute she has a right to be notified every time he changes his address.
Russell reached out to Bonnie Goode at the Vermont Sex Offender Registry, seeking clarification on why she was not notified and requesting verification of the notification process.
“I am so sorry that you did not receive the notification. I have attached the letter that should have been sent out. We will ensure that this does not happen again,” Goode responded via email.
“Once again all I get is an apology and some sort of statement saying it will not happen again. Yet my rights as a crime victim have not been met and there is no recourse for me. I am sure if it was my right as an offender I would have recourse. Please remember this when the next legislative session begins. I hope something legislatively can be done so that crime victims’ rights are met each and every time,” Russell said in response to the email.
Russell also contacted state Representatives Maxine Grad and Adam Greshin as well as Jeff Wallin, director of the Vermont Crime Information Center.
Wallin’s response is as follows:
“Thank you for reaching out on this issue. Our current offender management system should automatically generate a notice whenever a change of address notification has been requested. Unfortunately this process does not appear to have functioned properly in this case and we have opened a case with the system vendor to resolve as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we have reached out to the victim in question, provided an update via email and will continue to monitor this process.”
Greshin and Grad expressed dismay over the incident and Grad suggested a legislative hearing on the issue of the department of public safety not following its own protocols.
Judy Rex, director of the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services, was also contacted and she suggested that Russell file a formal complaint to legislators who enacted the notification legislation.