Convicted sex offender Timothy Szad is moving to California, but the details of his living arrangements in that state, or whether he has left Vermont yet, are matters state officials say they can’t talk about.
Szad, 53, was released from jail Friday after serving 13 years for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Rockingham boy.
Department of Corrections officials originally planned to release Szad to live with his parents in Springfield — a decision that prompted widespread outrage in the town.
“We’re probably talking about 30 to 40 calls between my office” and Springfield Police Chief Douglas Johnston, said Springfield Town Manager Robert Forguites on Friday. “And we had everyone from ABC and NBC to The Associated Press and the BBC calling us for interviews.”
Vermont Corrections Commissioner Andrew Pallito said the state’s plans for releasing Szad changed completely days ago when Szad’s parents rescinded their invitation. They said they’d received threats over the Internet to burn down their house.
The reversal left some state officials worried that Szad, who served the maximum of his seven- to 20-year sentence due to “good time” he received for good behavior while incarcerated, might end up homeless in Vermont — a destabilizing factor that Corrections officials said would add to the risk of Szad reoffending.
But Thursday, state officials announced that Szad planned to move out of state, and Friday Gov. Peter Shumlin released a statement disclosing that the offender would move to California.
“This has been a difficult situation, and I have shared the concerns expressed by many Vermonters about ensuring a placement for Mr. Szad that guarantees Vermonters’ safety and keeps Mr. Szad accountable,” Shumlin wrote.
“I appreciate that the Department of Corrections and others were able to work together to find him an appropriate placement in California.”
Where in California Szad is heading and the reasons he chose to move to that state are unclear. But Corrections Deputy Commissioner Lisa Menard said Friday that officials in that state and law enforcement in the destination community know he’s coming.
“We notified the local police this morning along with an office in that state that specializes in sex offender requirements,” she said.
Lynda Gledhill, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Justice, said Szad would have five days from his arrival in that state to register as a sex offender. Depending on the nature of his crimes and risk factors, his name, picture and other information could be added to a public sex offender website, she added.
California uses a different assessment tool than Vermont for calculating whether a sex offender is “high risk,” Gledhill said.
In Vermont, Szad, who completed sex offender treatment during his incarceration, is considered a high risk to reoffend based on the factors of his crime and his background.
If Szad returned to Vermont to live or visit the state, Menard said, he would be required to report to the state’s sex offender registry within 24 hours.
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