Answers sought on sex offender

Published 9:15 am Friday, March 13, 2009

Concern flared Thursday night at Crossroads Church during a community notification meeting centered around a high-risk sex offender moving to Albert Lea.

More than 120 people attended the meeting, during which resident after resident voiced concerns about the offender, including how he will be monitored, where he will be living and what people can do to make sure they are safe.

On Monday, the Level 3 offender, Jabar Pedro Morarend, will be released from prison and will move to the 1600 block of Frank Hall Drive, where he will live with family. He will be the only Level 3 sex offender living in the city.

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Morarend was convicted in 1998 for first-degree criminal sexual contact out of Rice County after he raped an adult woman, who was his neighbor. He did so using force, threats and a knife to gain compliance and entered her home without her permission.

He was sentenced to 110 months in prison for his offense.

In Minnesota, offenders are required to serve two-thirds of their sentence before they are eligible for intensive supervised release.

Michele Murphy, community notification coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, said Morarend was originally released from prison on this supervised release in December of 2004, but his release was revoked in 2007 after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated, Murphy said. He has been in prison ever since.

Though he will be out of prison on Monday, his supervised release goes through Dec. 20, she said. He will be visited a minimum of four times a week for the next four months.

Morarend will be required to follow conditions such as successfully completing sex offender programming, not entering an establishment with sexual entertainment, not using media to solicit contact with other people, and not entering bars or other similar establishments, Murphy said. He cannot purchase or operate a motor vehicle without prior consent from his corrections agent.

He will be required to register as a predatory offender until March 15, 2019, notifying the state about any changes to things such as his primary and secondary residences, his place of work, the automobiles he owns or drives, and changes to his appearance, she said.

911 for emergencies

377-5215 for the Albert Lea Police Department

377-5205 for the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office

For questions about Morarend’s supervision, contact Troy Diekman at (800) 996-0247

There will be unannounced checks on Morarend throughout that time, and that date could get pushed back depending on whether he finds himself in problems with the law, Murphy said.

She noted that Morarend had been charged in 1996 with criminal sexual contact out of Marshfield, Wis., but he was not convicted of that charge.

People in the audience questioned Morarend’s prior criminal history before the alleged criminal sexual contact.

Albert Lea detective Frank Kohl indicated the man had a history of car break-ins and burglaries.

Other people questioned how Morarend could be allowed to live so close to Halverson Elementary School, a place where there are lots of children and young mothers.

One of Morarend’s Department of Corrections agents, Troy Diekman, said Morarend had to submit a plan of where he was going to live after he was released from prison, and the address he submitted is within the parameters of his supervision.

One person asked how Morarend decided he was going to move to Albert Lea.

Albert Lea Police Chief Dwaine Winkels responded by saying that the department did not know the man was coming to Albert Lea until they were notified of the intention by the Department of Corrections.

“We did not solicit him,” Winkels said.

There are 52 registered predatory offenders in Albert Lea and 65 in all of Freeborn County. These numbers are comparable to other nearby communities. These counties have the following numbers of offenders:

70 in Steele County

87 in Mower County

40 in Faribault County

38 in Waseca County

40 in Dodge County

Diekman said Morarend has to submit weekly approved schedules of where he will be throughout the day and he will also be on a Global Positioning System. His release conditions state he will not be able to use the Internet, other than maybe at the Minnesota Workforce Development Center.

A few audience members questioned how late at night Morarend would be allowed to be outside of his home, and Diekman said generally from 10:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. the man should not be outside. That depends on whether he gets a job at night.

One woman asked whether the community as a whole had the right to say they did not want the man to move to Albert Lea. Murphy and Winkels both replied with a “no.”

Several others expressed that their fears were simply in the unknown — the unknown of if Morarend might re-offend and what they needed to do to stay safe.

Members of the panel — made up of Winkels, Kohl, Diekman, Murphy, Freeborn County Attorney Craig Nelson and Crime Victims Crisis Center Director Rose Olmsted — repeatedly emphasized how people need to practice good safety habits all the time, not just when news such as this arises.

People also can’t focus too much of their time on this one offender and turn their attention away from the majority of sex offenders who never get caught out in the community, they said.

Winkels said there are several officers who have been trained in crime prevention through environmental design that would be willing to share their training. Officers are willing to host smaller meetings with residents to talk about safety and other resources for those who would like to do so.