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Windom citizens express anger

WINDOM -- The Windom Community Center filled up fast Thursday night as citizens showed up in droves to find out about the level III sex offender who moved to town a week ago.

Gary Lee Mapstone, 49, was convicted in 1991 of second- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct and placed on 10 years of supervised probation. His victims were 10-, 11- and 13-year-old girls he knew well, according to Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) Community Notifications Coordinator Michele Murphy.

The criminal complaint from the incident states Mapstone was living at the Perkins Creek Apartments in Windom when the two younger girls came to his apartment looking for the 13-year-old in January 1991. He told the girls they could come in and wait for her, and while they were in the apartment, he touched them inappropriately several times and asked one of them to go to bed with him.

The girls told authorities Mapstone was the boyfriend of their 13-year-old friend.

The older girl was interviewed by an officer and told him she had met him two weeks earlier and had sexual intercourse with him just the day before.

When officers interviewed Mapstone, he admitted to fondling one of the younger girls, but not the other. He said he had touched the older girl and had sex with her around Christmas.

According to the DOC presentation Thursday night, Mapstone was convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1995, when he solicited sexual contact from a 13-year-old boy. He was sentenced to 36 months incarceration. In 1997, Mapstone was again convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

His victim was an adult male, and Mapstone reportedly took advantage of his sleeping state to gain compliance. He was again sentenced to a 36-month incarceration.

Murphy said Mapstone also admitted to having sexual conduct with a juvenile victim for which he was never charged.

In all three cases, the DOC said he was well known to his victims.

In June 1999, Mapstone was released as a level III predatory offender under intensive supervision, but his release was revoked in February 2005 and he was sent back to prison. He was released again in July under intensive supervision.

His sentence and supervision expired June 4, and he moved into Windom two days later.

"He is not bound by any conditions beyond registering as an offender," Murphy stated.

She explained that law enforcement would keep a close eye on Mapstone, and would know where he lives, where he works, what vehicles he drives and if he makes any changes to his appearance. They plan on visiting him about once a week.

"Otherwise he is free and allowed to continue his education or buy groceries, receive medical care or do his banking," Murphy said. "He is allowed to live and work free of harassment."

While acknowledging that she knew people were anxious and concerned with the situation, Murphy talked about sex offender statistics:

l There are 135 level III sex offenders in Minnesota, 97 of whom are no longer under supervision.

l As of Jan. 1, there were approximately 15,000 active predatory offenders in Minnesota, including levels I, II, and III.

l There are currently 19 registered sex offenders in Windom, and 36 in Cottonwood County. Redwood County has about 47, Jackson County has 27 and Murray County had 15, including one level III.

l Most sexually abused children are abused by someone not on the registry.

l Of sexual abuse cases reported, 33 percent of the victims are ages 12 to 17 and 20 percent are ages 6 to 11. More than 85 percent are female.

Murphy encouraged the residents to call police if they saw something that concerned them, but to leave the law enforcement to the authorities.

"Be vigilant, but not vigilantes," she stated.

One person asked whether a rumor that Mapstone had changed his hair color was true.

"He has been here since Saturday and we have already been in contact with him four times," said Windom Police Chief Jeff Shirkey. "He has not changed anything."

"If he offended three times, and is at a level most likely to reoffend, why is he out?" one person asked, sparking applause in the audience. "Why did he choose Windom?"

Murphy explained that Mapstone has finished out the sentence given to him by a judge. As for his decision to come to Windom, Murphy said he has a support system in the area, which is important to sex offenders.

Some asked to know who his support system was, but Murphy cited data practice laws and could not answer.

"How do you calm the fears of a teenager who ... now doesn't want to go outside?" one woman asked.

"Let me stress that Mr. Mapstone's victims have always been people he had known," Murphy responded. "Don't get to know him."

One woman came up with a handful of questions, asking if Mapstone would be allowed near Castle Kingdom, a Windom park, and if he could walk around at Riverfest without supervision.

"He is not bound by any restrictions," Murphy reiterated.

"So he can just walk right up to my little girl and say whatever? He can go to the ice skating show, or wherever little kids are?" the woman asked, fighting tears.

"If he does anything that makes you uncomfortable, call the police," Murphy answered. "If you notice anyone doing anything suspicious, call the police."

Shirkey reiterated that all of Mapstone's victims were known to him.

"He's not the type to come up and snatch someone's kid off the street," Shirkey stated, then quickly backpedaled. "I'm not saying it couldn't happen."

He stressed again that people should call the police if they see something that makes them uncomfortable or suspicious.

"We don't want him here. He does not deserve our respect," another woman said. "I'm calling the police right now, because I'm uncomfortable with him being here."

Under questioning, Murphy and Shirkey told the gathered citizens that Mapstone is not currently employed and moved to Windom from Minneapolis.

Several people came up to the microphone to speak, but weren't actually there to ask a question that could be answered.

"What if he goes out of his normal MO?" one man asked. "I feel we're playing Russian Roulette with our children. Can't you put him on a farm site somewhere?"

"Is there anyone who has ever been successful in getting a guy like this removed from their town?" another asked. He then wanted to know if it was legal to protest outside Mapstone's residence.

A woman got up and asked why someone who had offended so many times couldn't be castrated.

"If he goes anywhere near my kids, you can make room for me in the jail," she told Shirkey.

"There has been a lot of emphasis on his rights," another person stated. "He lost his rights when he committed his first offense. I also have the right to live in a community free of fear."

One woman asked if posters with Mapstone's photo could be put up in places children gather so he could be readily identified. Shirkey said the pool staff had been informed, and anyone was welcome to go on the city's Web site and print off Mapstone's photo.

One woman got up and explained that she and her husband had befriended a man who turned out to be sexually abusing a child, much to their shock. She said she regrets not acting sooner when she thought there was something going on.

"Yes, the level IIIs are out there," she said. "I just pray the parents are stepping up and taking care of their children and watching out for the other children."

Positive applause filled the community center as she continued.

"Keep an eye on the kids, watch where they are going," she said. "We need to take care of our kids."

Although Murphy and Shirkey did not give out Mapstone's exact address, they did confirm that he does live on the north end of Fourth Avenue, but does not live in Tanglewood Apartments.

According to the DOC, he will have to register as a predatory offender at least until July 24, 2015, though that date is not finite.