Cushing considers ordinance to prohibit sex offenders moving near school
Cushing — Town attorney Partick Mellor and Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennsion attended the Cushing select board meeting Monday, Oct. 8 to discuss the town's options in drafting an ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from living near the Cushing Community School.
The issue was first raised at the Sept. 24 board meeting when residents, also parents of two young children, approached the board with concerns that a registered offender was living in close proximity to the school.
Mellor confirmed the state statute allows municipalities to adopt ordinances prohibiting registered offenders from living a maximum of 750-feet from areas where children are the primary users, including schools, recreational parks, day care facilities and youth camps.
The ordinance is not retroactive, meaning if a prohibitive ordinance is adopted, it will not have precedence to displace an offender already living in close proximity to such a property, he said.
Dennison said she will be sending an officer to the area this week to investigate the distance of the school property and the property where the offender, Robert S. Young, lives.
The board acknowledged there is another registered offender living 1,000-feet from the school, although he was not named.
Young was in Rockland District Court Sept. 13 on a charge of failing to register or update the sex offender registration and notification information required by the state from the sex offender registration and notification act of 1999, according to court documents. The offense occurred on June 8, 2012, according to court documents.
Young pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to appear in court again Oct. 25, according to court documents.
The District Attorney's office is requesting jail time for the offense, according to court documents.
Dennison said Young is currently on bail conditions.
Mellor said two other towns in the state — Oakland and Sebago — have adopted similar ordinances. He said he will acquire copies of those municipal ordinances to aid Cushing in drafting their own.
Mellor added registered offenders are not allowed to have contact with children under the age of 14 in a restricted zone, citing his opinion that although contact can be construed broadly, it would include any form of communication — both verbal and non-verbal. Violation of this statute is a crime, he said.
A restricted zone is a place or facility where children are the primary users.
Mellor suggested selectmen draft the ordinance. "It shows citizens you're forward-thinking and paying attention," he said.
The board said in order to adopt an ordinance, the town will schedule a special town meeting.
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at JLaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.