NISSWA-The Minnesota Department of Corrections supervising agents-who will monitor 74-year-old Thomas Richard Erickson, a Level 3 predatory offender-told residents Monday they would be keeping a close eye on him, and if he does anything he shouldn't they would "deal with him."
The DOC, along with the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office, hosted a community notification meeting Monday at Nisswa City Hall to provide information on public safety and on Erickson to about 20 people who attended the meeting.
Erickson is set to be released from prison Oct. 31 and will move to a residence on Crow Wing County Road 13 in rural Nisswa. The DOC and the sheriff's office do not release exact addresses of where Level 3 offenders reside, as well as other private data, such as where they will work.
Sarah Hustad, DOC community notification coordinator, told the crowd the meeting was not to heighten fear in the community, but rather to educate the public. She said a recidivism study in 2007 showed the rate of registered offenders who reoffend was 16.7 percent. Hustad said since new rules have been in place, the percent decreased to 3.3 percent.
The state attributes the decrease to improved practices, better treatment for offenders and harsher sentences, to name a few. Hustad said the study also showed it did not matter if the offender lived by a school, park or day care. The location did not make a difference on whether the offender would break the conditions of release. She said 90 percent of the offenders do not reoffend.
The supervising agents for Erickson will be Jeremiah Sims, Brian Maturi, Carmen Goldsmith and Janice Kampfe. Sims and Maturi attended the meeting and said they will monitor Erickson and visit him four times a week and the offender would be placed on GPS monitoring.
The agents said they want the offenders they work with to succeed in society, get jobs and also want the public to feel safe. They said everything Erickson does has to be preapproved with them and he has to call them to report his daily activities. They said visits are unannounced, random and agents will visit Erickson at his residence or where he is seeking treatment. Erickson is subject to random alcohol and drug testing, must submit to searches, and he cannot use the internet or social media.
The audience asked various questions in an informal setting, such as why Erickson was being released on Halloween. The agents said it is not their call on when Erickson is released. It just happened to be on Halloween.
Hilary Johnson of the Central Lakes Mothers of Preschoolers, who also lives near where Erickson is to reside, asked the agents if they would disclose the exact address to the neighbor who lives next to Erickson. They said they would not for safety and privacy reasons.
After the meeting, Johnson said she feels good about the knowledge she learned, but said she feels "more sick" about the situation.
"It's scary," she said as she has two boys. "I came here to gather as much knowledge as I could. This is stuff you don't like to talk about."
Johnson said this is information she will share with her group of moms.
Amanda Schwarzkopf, education coordinator of Sexual Assault Services in Brainerd who attended the meeting, said their advocates are there to help groups like MOPS. She said they have advocates available 24 hours a day for free and confidential advice by calling 888-458-0494. Schwarzkopf said if anyone has a group they want an advocate to attend to discuss their services or to educate their group, they could contact their offices.
Pastor Kari Williamson of Lutheran Church of the Cross in Nisswa attended the meeting to learn more information about Erickson and Level 3 offenders so she could share that information with her family, friends and congregation.
Erickson was sentenced in 2013 for sexually abusing young boys over several decades at his Nisswa home. Erickson served the sentence imposed on him by the court, and is transitioning into the community.
Erickson pleaded guilty and was convicted three years ago in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd on several counts involving abuse of an 11-year-old boy in 1984-85; abuse of another boy when he was in second through sixth grade in 1990-95; and a boy victim, who was 23 years old during Erickson's sentencing, who was abused during the years of 1996-2005.
Erickson reported he had no recollection of what happened with the first victim, but pleaded guilty then because of the substantial evidence the state had against him. He pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Erickson's case included 28 counts of criminal sexual conduct against him involving the three victims. Erickson admitted to having criminal sexual conduct with the second victim on multiple occasions where the boy stayed at his residence 10 or more times where criminal sexual conduct occurred. He admitted they had a significant relationship.
Erickson admitted to having criminal sexual conduct with the third victim where he had a significant relationship with the victim. Erickson admitted the victim stayed overnight on and off from 1996-2005, where he engaged in criminal sexual conduct.
According to the DOC, Erickson is described as having blue eyes, gray hair and is of medium build. He is 5-foot 8-inches tall and 173 pounds.
A Level 3 predatory offender is considered by the DOC most likely to reoffend. In Crow Wing County, Erickson will be the fourth Level 3 as he joins Brandon Keith Churchill, Terrance Lee Lindmark and Christopher Robert Roehl.
According to the DOC, of all offenders who have been assigned risk levels, approximately 57 percent are Level 1; 31 percent are Level 2; and 12 percent are Level 3. There are 392 Level 3 offenders in Minnesota.
Of all registered offenders, Hustad said there are 195 in Crow Wing County and 107 in Brainerd.
Go to https://coms.doc.state.mn.us/Level3/ for more information on Level 3 offenders.