Join 3,552 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


neighborhood handyman is a supposedly reformed predator
December 2, 2010 1:56 PM   Subscribe

Should I tell my neighbors that their landscaper/handyman is a violent sex offender?

Back in 2001, my city made national headlines when the mayor and goofball sheriff very publicly harassed a man who had done time for two separate sex offenses in Michigan and subsequently moved here. The nature of his crimes (he raped two women in front of their colleauges during a restaurant robbery, served 10 years, got out and tried to drag a 10-year-old girl into his car, got 10 more years) pretty much guaranteed that he wasn't going to be welcome anywhere. He moved around a bit, houses he stayed in were vandalized, people picketed, and police and media hounded him. After a few years, however, the hubbub died down and he has apparently lived a relatively quiet life in a mobile home just outside of town.

Fast forward to the present -- My wife and I have lived in our current neighborhood for about 6 years. There are several women of varying ages on our street (from retirees to young professionals) who live alone. A few years ago, one of them hired a handyman, and he began spending lots of time on our street. Eventually, other neighbors started hiring him too, as he is apparently conscientious and does good work. Our neighbor directly accross the street is having him do extensive adaptations to her yard, to be followed by work on her HVAC system. During a conversation with her, she told me his name, which was the same as the aforementioned rapist's.

Two days ago, I happened to ride up on my bike as he was working, so went to say hello. To my dismay, he was, indeed, the same creepy face that appears on the sex offender registry.

While I privately believe that violent sex offenders are probably uncurable and should be jailed for eternity in horrible dank dungeons, I do ascribe to our nation's theories regarding crime, law and punishment, and he has done his time. In other words, do I like him spending so much time hanging out on my kid-friendly street? No. But does he have the right to be there? Absolutely. Does he have a right to earn a living move on with his life? I guess so.

What I'm wondering is: given his past, should I tell my neighbor accross the street, a near-retirement psychologist who we like very much and talk to frequently? Does she have a right to know this about a man who has keys to her house? Or am I just being a typical nosy NIMBY? What would you do?
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! to Human Relations (79 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you were the one employing him, would you want to know?

If yes, tell your neighbor(s). If no, don't.

I think that's the best barometer you can go by in this kind of situation.
posted by phunniemee at 2:01 PM on December 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


I hope to hell my neighbor would tell me.
posted by headnsouth at 2:04 PM on December 2, 2010 [40 favorites]


i think you should share the information, but be careful not to mount a witch hunt. as a psychologist, it's possible she already knows.

personally, i feel like if you think that violent sex offenders should get life in prison that you should work on changing the laws and that all ex-cons, regardless of crime, should be allowed to make a living (full disclosure, i also think the sex offender registry is a terrible solution to a difficult issue). it is better for our society to find a way to live along side ex-cons as shoving them further out of society gives more, not less, chances of reoffending.
posted by nadawi at 2:05 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a tough one. So the man does good work, and he's done his time. Perhaps he's rehabilitated. (I have a relative who did time for child molestation. He responded well to therapy and doesn't harass little girls any more... as far as anyone knows, that is.)

Knowledge of this man's crimes is a matter of public record. You might as well tell her just so she's aware that that harmless garter snake might actually be poisonous. I'd say leave it alone if she were merely a neighbor, but this is your friend. She'd smack you if you didn't tell her, I'd think.
posted by goblinbox at 2:05 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why not just tell the police.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:07 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would present the facts as I knew and a way for the other person to verify them. I would tell the other person to do just that, to be sure.

Why? Because if something happened I would know that having had the knowledge I could maybe have helped others to prevent it.

But theft, violence, rape, child offence - I'd say something.
posted by episodic at 2:07 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes. While I believe that sex offender laws are oppressive and probably unconstitutional, this man has a history of multiple violent sexual offenses. He should not have the keys to anyone's house. I do not think it is being hysterical or paranoid to believe this man is a threat to your neighbor. They have a right to know.
posted by whoaali at 2:08 PM on December 2, 2010 [15 favorites]


Yes, I think you should tell her. If it were me, I'd couch it such that you made it clear you weren't expecting her to fire him or anything like that, and that you have no way of knowing whether he's reformed and turned his life around, but that you thought she had the right to know.

I think that appropriately puts it on her to weigh her own beliefs on the (potential) rehabilitation of violent offenders and importance of offering second chances with any concerns she might have about her safety.
posted by iminurmefi at 2:08 PM on December 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


Tell her, yes. It is her informed decision to make.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:10 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, by all means, tell her. As long as the story is verifiable (and it sounds like it, as his name and picture pop up on the registry), I highly doubt she would consider your offering of info as an intrusion. In situations like this, it's better to err on the side of caution.
posted by puritycontrol at 2:11 PM on December 2, 2010


why would OP call the police? the police know of his whereabouts and it's not illegal to make a living once you've done your time. now, if you believe that he's somehow breaking the guidelines ex-cons have to follow, i could see it - but it's not like he's carrying a gun or trying to vote...
posted by nadawi at 2:11 PM on December 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


But does he have the right to be there? Absolutely

That may not be the case, actually.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:12 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Absolutely, absolutely, yes. Tell them. No question. If other people's violent sex crimes weren't your business then they wouldn't be in the public record. We wouldn't have a sex offender registry.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:12 PM on December 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Why not just tell the police.

Tell the police what? That a person who is on sex offender registry is working? Sex offender list is problematic for many reasons (19 year old has sex with 17 year old, has record, is on list) but that is not the case here. I would tell her.
posted by fixedgear at 2:14 PM on December 2, 2010


I privately believe that violent sex offenders are probably uncurable and should be jailed for eternity in horrible dank dungeons, I do ascribe to our nation's theories regarding crime, law and punishment, and he has done his time.

He has done his time and should be free to seek employment and live life freely, within the constraints of his parole, if any. That said, being freed from jail does not mean you are humanly absolved of your crimes as if they had never occurred. You have the right to inform your neighbors of his past - which is public record - just as if you were telling them that their gardener was once a famous astronaut. At that point, it's up to them to decide what to do. The only thing you should keep in mind is that you are somewhat culpable if your actions lead to a witch hunt. On the same hand, you'll certainly *feel* culpable if he were to attack one of the single women on your street, and frankly, I'd hate that more. So personally, I would discretely mention it without any additional gossip or speculation, then leave it be.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:15 PM on December 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


Tell her, and immediately. Wouldn't you want to be told?
posted by uans at 2:16 PM on December 2, 2010


I personally think the safety of your neighbours outweighs his right to privacy. Does your psychologist friend live alone? I live alone with 2 kids, I hire people to mow my lawn and do odd jobs around the house, and I would absolutely want to be told. Come to think of it, I'd be really pissed off if I found out later that you - a neighbour and friend - knew and didn't tell me.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:16 PM on December 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Single woman, living alone? Please tell her. Married with a semi-retired husband who stays home a lot cleaning his vast collection of firearms? Then maybe there's some wiggle room.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:16 PM on December 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


1,000% yes.

@nadawi, the police doesn't always know of offenders whereabouts or activities.

I'm like you, if you don't want to be deemed a REPEAT violent sex offender where people are going to judge you and you have access to people's houses, property, etc, then don't commit repeat violent sex offenses. And seeing he's in neighborhoods where he can see women, kids, etc. who knows what could happen or what could be prevented. I look on the sex offender site in my neighborhood, how close they are living near my house, etc. because I have a 2 year old. Tough shit if I'm judging. I love my son more than I love their feelings.

Tell them in a way where they can look at the database themselves and make a decision on their own.
posted by stormpooper at 2:17 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why tell the police?

Because, theoretically, they are an objective, 3rd-party organization designed to uphold laws and keep the peace.

They also know who is on the sex offender registry. So far, the OP is relying on gut instinct that this fellow is a sex offender. What if the OP is mistaken, but tells the neighbours anyway?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:18 PM on December 2, 2010


I despise sex offender registries because they sometimes have inaccurate or misleading information and frequently result in witch-hunts and even deaths of innocent people who are mistaken for sex offenders or technical sex offenders mistaken for serious sex offenders when they actually pleaded guilty to non-violent offenses (public urination, indecent exposure, prostitution), sometimes 30 years ago, with no notice this would subject them to incredible public scrutiny.

This case does not pose that problem. You have a friend letting this person into her home. You are sure this is the same person and the same offense. I suspect she would want to know.

That said, it would make no sense to call the police, per KokuRyu's suggestion. This man has served his time and is allowed to try to rebuild his life, and you have no information that he's breaking any laws.
posted by *s at 2:20 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, this is a really tough call. I too feel that once someone has 'paid their debt to society' they should be supported in trying to rebuild a life for themselves.

That said, this is extremely violent crime, perpetrated against a class of people (women) that your neighbor is part of - it's not grand theft auto or drug possession or something like that. I think I would tell her, to make sure that she was aware and took whatever precautions she deemed necessary (not being alone with him, maybe changing the locks after he's done, that kind of thing). I just wouldn't be able to live with myself if he did something to her and I hadn't shared my knowledge.

I hate coming from a place of fear with something like this, but - the man has a history of repeating extremely violent behavior, and bottom line for me: her safety trumps his need for privacy.
posted by widdershins at 2:21 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I want to clarify a little.

A few years ago my across the street neighbor was raped by a man who came by to shovel her snow. She was a spry 65 and living alone. The man shoveled his walk and then asked for a cup of coffee, he then forced his way into her home and assaulted her.

Turns out he was a repeat offender.

Do you think my neighbor would have wanted to know that? You bet she would. Did I want to know what happened across the street? No, but I needed to to better protect myself.

Please let your neighbor know in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Don't make her feel like an idiot if she decides to keep this man around, but by all means give her the information she needs to make her own decision.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:22 PM on December 2, 2010 [12 favorites]


The OP is not relying on his gut instinct, he's relying on the public sex offender registry that tells him this man's name and face are those of a convicted sex offender. The police would do... what? Say "yes thank you, this man is indeed on this public list and he is working."

Yes, tell the woman. Be sure to frame it in a non-hysterical manner, but tell her.
posted by coupdefoudre at 2:22 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


shoveled her walk*
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:24 PM on December 2, 2010


So far, the OP is relying on gut instinct that this fellow is a sex offender. What if the OP is mistaken, but tells the neighbours anyway?

Relying on his gut instinct would mean that he saw a man and deemed him a sex offender without knowing anything about him.

The OP knows the rapist's name and knows that it matches the landscaper's name. He knows that the two look alike. His conclusion is more informed than any conclusion based on "gut instinct" would be.

He should pass this information on to his neighbors. They can do what they like with it.
posted by pineappleheart at 2:26 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


He has done his time and should be free to seek employment and live life freely, within the constraints of his parole, if any. That said, being freed from jail does not mean you are humanly absolved of your crimes as if they had never occurred.

Right, this is an ethical dilemma because on the one hand, the publicly available information about his criminal record does make it unlikely that anyone will want to hire him, and on the other hand people are supposed to be able to earn money and function as a normal citizen after being released from prison. So when deciding to spread this information, you are balancing your neighbors' right to protect themselves from harm versus the ex-con's right to live a normal life.

In the particular case, I would lean toward getting the word out because it's other people who are potentially going to be harmed by hiring him rather than you. If you personally think the benefits of his being able to work outweigh the risks of hiring him, you should hire him yourself, but other people arguably deserve to know about public information relevant to making their own decision about hiring him.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:29 PM on December 2, 2010


If I were your neighbor, I would want you to tell me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:31 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are incidents, and there are patterns. This man seems to have a pattern of assault (he was convicted for two crimes, but it is likely that there are more assaults for which he was not caught).

Absolutely tell her. Discreetly, tactfully, but tell her.
posted by too bad you're not me at 2:32 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I put my vote in for telling. Reasons:

1. These were very violent crimes
2. He is a repeat offender.
3. There is no doubt he did these crimes. (Raped two women in front of witnesses...)
4. These were very brazen crimes, which suggests something that I can't quite put my finger on (lack of impulse control, maybe?)
5. He is not merely interacting with her. He has the key to her place. This may be temptation for this man.

If you merely knew he was a sex offender and nothing else, I wouldn't necessarily be so in favor of telling. (It could have been an overblown statutory rape charge. Maybe he was wrongly convicted.) But those types of situations, which can make sex offender notification laws very unfair in my mind, are not present here.
posted by unannihilated at 2:32 PM on December 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


tell her what you told us, and immediately. I don't even see how this is a hard call. Just tell her what you told us about the picture and the name. Then she can look it up herself if she cares -- which she should.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:33 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. Please alert the police.
2. Be very, very conscious of how you broach this topic with the women who have hired this man. If you are correct (and it seems likely that you are), the women he works with need to be extremely careful about the way in which they disengage from having him on their property as their handyman. If they are abrupt or hostile the next time they interact with him, this may provoke him and they could become official targets. And if they all fire him at once, he's going to be very irritated and very suspicious. This could bode ill for everyone involved.
3. The woman across the street from you needs to change the locks to her house NOW.
posted by patronuscharms at 2:39 PM on December 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


According to the OP, the handyman has been working in this neighborhood for a few years and has presumably not raped anyone. I'm not sure how much of a difference this makes to the likelihood that he will eventually commit some sort of sexual offense again, but it seems like it deserves some consideration. Honestly I'm not sure what I'd do in the OP's shoes but I wanted to throw that out there since nobody else seems to have mentioned it.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:40 PM on December 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


you are balancing your neighbors' right to protect themselves from harm versus the ex-con's right to live a normal life

Just want to address this idea ...

After someone is released from prison, the *government* may have obligations to treat them just like everyone else, or almost like everyone else.

That doesn't mean that any individual person has this obligation at all. It doesn't mean we need to assume that someone is a new and different person, it doesn't mean we need to pretend that a person's past actions aren't a good predictor of their future actions. We can, but we have no obligation to.

It doesn't mean we need to treat someone who raped two women and then attempted to grab a 10 year old girl exactly the same as a person who has led a law-abiding life completely free of rape. I, personally, feel absolutely zero obligation to do so. None. And I think you would have no reason to feel guilty for not doing so either.
posted by Ashley801 at 2:40 PM on December 2, 2010 [28 favorites]


You seem like a very level-headed person. Please share this information just the way you presented it to us with your neighborhood. Let them decide whether or not to continue employing him.
posted by special-k at 2:41 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree with *s about sex offender registries in general, but this seems to be a situation where a registry does what it should--warn people about a genuinely violent, repeat offender. I'd tell your neighbor in a heartbeat. I would absolutely want to be told if I were in her shoes.
posted by Mavri at 2:43 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


While I've seen how problematic sex offender registries can be from a professional perspective, I think in this case I would inform your neighbours.

Frankly, I think that anyone who commits two violent rapes is getting off very lightly, if he only served ten years. But I suppose that's an issue with the criminal justice system.

Ultimately, his criminal history is on the public record. If I were your neighbour, I would want to know. I would be careful that you don't spark a witchhunt - as you said, he has served his time and not reoffended to your knowledge. Present the information dispassionately, perhaps in letter form (which avoids a heated discussion), and allow your neighbour to make up her own mind.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:44 PM on December 2, 2010


He has the key to her place.

This is what pushes me into the "Dear God, she should know" category. I understand the idea of someone paying their debt to society, and needing to make a living after being in jail for so long.

But there's a huge level of personal trust involved in giving someone a key to your house, trust that this man does not deserve.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 2:47 PM on December 2, 2010 [13 favorites]


If it were your mother or sister living across the street, would you tell her? Of course you would.
posted by desjardins at 2:57 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would want to know if I were one of your neighbours, who was employing him. And I agree with your considerations. I think if you frame it in a slightly hesitant manner, and suggest that she check the registry herself (what a terrible idea they are, BTW) to confirm, then your conscience should be clear.
posted by Joh at 3:04 PM on December 2, 2010


Please tell her. Please. He knows her home and probably her routine, and HAS A KEY. Tell her tonight.
posted by SuzySmith at 3:04 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sadly, there is a big conflict between his right to serve his time, then go live his life, and the right of people to live safely. That's why the sex offender registry exists. My Asst. D.A. friend hates when people get on the registry for being stupid but not dangerous, like the 18 year old who gets duped into sex with a 15 year old. But this is pretty unequivocally predatory behavior, and I would err on the side of safety and tell them.

In my version of a nice world, some large muscular neighbor would say to him "It's come to the attention of the neighborhood that you have a criminal record. We want to continue to employ you, but, honestly, we want you to know that if anyone is harmed, you will be investigated" in hopes that this awareness would make people safer. This is a difficult scenario, and I think asking here was a good idea.
posted by theora55 at 3:05 PM on December 2, 2010


Call the police, and ask if his parole permits him to be employed in this manner. There's a chance that it does not (and, even though I disagree with your opinions about crime and punishment, I'd pretty strongly agree that a repeat sex offender probably shouldn't be allowed to work alone in private homes, let alone be given the keys). If the guy's violating his parole, this is a cut-and-dry issue. Report him.


On the other hand, as far as you know, this guy has done nothing wrong since being released from prison. If you go to your neighbors with this information, he will be fired. Are you okay with the idea of completely destroying somebody's livelihood, especially in the current economic climate? Also, consider that poverty and crime are very highly correlated. If the guy really has reformed, is making an honest living, and isn't being harassed 24/7, I would wager that he's far, far less likely to commit crimes in the future.

Maybe I'm being a stupid idealist, or playing the role of the devil's advocate a bit too strongly... However, I could put together a strong enough case for not telling your neighbors.

That all said, I'd probably want to be told. If you do it, though, please leave your non-sequitur about Crime & Punishment out of it.
posted by schmod at 3:05 PM on December 2, 2010


More information is almost always good.
posted by Bonzai at 3:15 PM on December 2, 2010


this guy made national news because the mayor and chief of police harrassed him and then was later hounded by the police and media. he still lives in the same general area. the police know where this guy is. someone that has been that big of a thorn and embarrassment isn't off their radar.
posted by nadawi at 3:19 PM on December 2, 2010


Slightly different approach: (not recommending this, just throwing it out there): talk to the guy. Don't even have to say why, just walk up to him and ask him about his prices or something. See what the vibe is like.

Ask the neighbor(s) what they think of the guy.

I can't disagree with wanting to know, because I probably would too. But I agree with those who say he did his time and deserves an opportunity to make a living. They are both 100% right, and unfortunately are in conflict with each other. There is no right answer.
posted by gjc at 3:20 PM on December 2, 2010


I'm just chiming in to say that if I was her, I would absolutely want to know. Even if you have your opinions about crime and punishment, you are not the one making the decision to hire or fire him, so ultimately, I don't think it should factor too much into this decision, especially considering you are not telling someone's deep dark secret but something that is very public information. She needs to take the information, and make that decision on her own, using her own opinions of crime and punishment (and personal safety).
posted by lacedcoffee at 3:30 PM on December 2, 2010


TELL HER. It is her decision to make whether to continue employing him and giving him free access to her home, not yours. How would you feel if something DID happen to her, and you had done nothing? I really dislike the whole witchhunt aspect as well, but it's not like she just works with him at an office. That's different. Someone who raped two people brazenly and tried to kidnap a 10 year old girl has keys to her house and she doesn't know. Let her know. Please.
posted by kpht at 3:35 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I agree that sex offender registries unfairly hurt people for public urination, but in this case, the person was convicted of something much worse. While ex-cons should be able to make a living, they could do so while doing other activities, like driving freight trucks or working as a high-paid executive, that don't involve having access to people's homes or being alone with women in isolated locations. While people can (sometimes) change, it's okay to be aware of their history while keeping that possibility in mind.
posted by salvia at 3:40 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe you should ask a mod to edit out some info from your question? I was able to find this guy's name and address in less than 3 minutes.
posted by mlis at 3:52 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Of course you should tell her.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:54 PM on December 2, 2010


I was able to find this guy's name and address in less than 3 minutes.

That seems like a feature to me, not a bug--I want to be able to find out who did horrific shit like this guy did without too much exercise of the Google.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:17 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


yeah, but that's where witch hunts pick up steam. presently, you have a guy known to at least part of the community, known to the cops, and in a known location. if you start with the internet sleuthing and then the papering the neightborhood and then the PTA meetings - what has been a peaceful, controlled situation for years now could suddenly get very out of control.
posted by nadawi at 4:25 PM on December 2, 2010


poverty and crime are very highly correlated...If the guy really has reformed, is making an honest living, and isn't being harassed 24/7, I would wager that he's far, far less likely to commit crimes in the future.

No way. There's a big difference between being driven to steal because you're poor, or in an unstable situation, and attempting to kidnap a 10 year-old girl. The first is situational; the second is pathological. OP, please tell your neighbor so she can make an informed decision.
posted by martianna at 4:35 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


It sounds like there is plenty of verifiable information that this man committed multiple violent sexual assaults. You're not slandering him, trying to get him fired or run out of town on a rail. You are simply informing your neighbor and friend of facts in this person's background. Especially because she is a woman living alone and has already or will soon presumably give him a key to her home, you ought to tell her.

Like Salvia said, he has a right to make a living, but there are ways to do so that do not involve gaining access to the homes of single women. If he were a waiter at her favorite restaurant, a clerk at the local bookstore, or her hairdresser, then keeping quiet would be a fine idea, but this is her home, your neighborhood, your friend. Neighbors should watch out for one another. I'm sorry you have found yourself in such an uncomfortable situation, but it sounds like you're on the right track.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 4:36 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would want to know that a rapist (and potentially a child molesting rapist!) had access to my home.

Sure, maybe he's reformed and is now a law-abiding citizen, but he permanently gave up his right to be given the benefit of the doubt when he raped those women and tried to kidnap that little girl.
posted by crankylex at 4:36 PM on December 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


As a woman living alone: tell her. Now.
posted by SMPA at 4:53 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


So it should be noted that when I've gone looking for stats on this, I've been surprised to find that sex offenders as a class appear to have a recidivism rate that's a fifth or a tenth of the non-sex offender criminal recidivism rate.

Don't know what that has to do with the particulars of this individual, and given that "sex offender", especially with some of the silliness that's occurring around statutory rape, covers a hell of a lot of ground, there are obviously probably subdivisions in here where there are higher and lower occurrences. It may be that violent sex offenders make up all the recidivism.

Don't know if that has an effect on your decision at all, but just a note that looking up the stats yourself might change your "...I privately believe that violent sex offenders are probably uncurable..." opinion.

Here endeth my thread derail.
posted by straw at 4:54 PM on December 2, 2010


Don't know what that has to do with the particulars of this individual

Well, he's already been a recidivist, according to the registry, so recidivism rates among the population overall are kind of irrelevant. And he escalated the level of his crime in his recidivism, too.

My wish for him, because he's a fellow human being, is that he never does anything like that again and that he can put his life back together. I wouldn't want to give him keys to my house without knowing his history, though, and nor would I want anyone else to do that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:04 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy fuck! I don't get the controversy here. TELL HER NOW.
posted by pintapicasso at 5:11 PM on December 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Look. I'm just gonna be real here about why this sets me off: As a woman who's been raped by an acquaintance, I would've found information that would've prevented it very welcome. I would regard very poorly anyone who withheld information from me in the grounds that MAYBE I would become hysterical or start a witchhunt instead of calmly and cautiously removing myself from a dangerous situation.

I'm begging you, please tell them. From a legal standpoint, this man has forfeited his right to live anonymously twice over.
posted by pineappleheart at 5:14 PM on December 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


Ahem. I meant "on the grounds." Presumably, you are aware that burying information in the literal ground would benefit no one.
posted by pineappleheart at 5:19 PM on December 2, 2010


What would you do?

I would not be asking random strangers on the internet, I'd be calling my neighbor and telling her exactly who this guy was. This is a complete no brainer, in my opinion.
posted by nomadicink at 5:40 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


That seems like a feature to me, not a bug--I want to be able to find out who did horrific shit like this guy did without too much exercise of the Google.

My concern is for the OP and our community.

My wish for him, because he's a fellow human being, is that he never does anything like that again and that he can put his life back together.

My wish for him is nothing like that.
posted by mlis at 5:51 PM on December 2, 2010


Well, to follow up, my wife has just called our neighbor to let her know. Who knows how this is all going to work out, but at least she's armed with the information now.

I don't like the witch hunt potential either, and when this was all happening 8 or 9 years ago, I was among the many who wished they'd just leave him alone if they weren't going to put him back in jail. It's been a long time, so I doubt he's on parole, but obvs. he shows up in the sex offender registry.

Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful advice.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 6:31 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I despise the way sex offender registries are abused, and have a whole lot of scorn for what I consider a failing criminal justice and incarceration system. It's a damn shame that you recognize this man because elected officials were permitted to publicly shame and functionally banish a resident deemed undesirable.

And I still think that you should tell your neighbors right away. And consider calling the police, too.
posted by desuetude at 6:50 PM on December 2, 2010


And consider calling the police, too.

Why? He's already on the sex offender registry. Unless M.C. Lo-Carb! knows that the address given for him isn't where he is currently staying, it's a waste of the police's time to call them and report him.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:14 PM on December 2, 2010


I'm glad you made the decision you did, and my reasoning is this: sometimes people steal because they fall in with a bad crowd, sometimes they do it because they need to feed the kids, and sometimes they do it because they just don't give a shit about other people's rights (and other complex reasons of course).

I can't think of any justifiable reason for someone to sexually offend another person. This action means to me that this person's values are of a kind that I can not understand, and can not trust to fit in with society rules. I will suspect a person with this kind of background as stopping because they're afraid of the punishment, not stopping because they dislike and are ashamed of the behaviour. This is very rarely a successful strategy for preventing criminal acts. If it were, capital punishment would be a deterrent and it is not.
posted by b33j at 11:43 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Side note to your neighbor for when you next speak: if she decides to stop employing him, she should have her locks changed to new ones, and *then* ask him to return the keys (for the old, un-installed locks). If he's had access to her keys, he's had the opportunity to make copies.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:31 AM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe it would be a good idea to check in with the police, to make sure that they are aware of the nature of his work - I think it would be of interest to his parole officers that he has keys to people's residences. No harm done if he is in fact staying within the conditions of his release, and if not, actions can be taken to mitigate the risk to the community.
posted by ultrabuff at 12:46 AM on December 3, 2010


> And consider calling the police, too. Why? He's already on the sex offender registry. Unless M.C. Lo-Carb! knows that the address given for him isn't where he is currently staying, it's a waste of the police's time to call them and report him.

Because I don't know where M.C. Lo-Carb! lives, so I can't presume the dynamic of the police relationship with his community? In some smaller towns, the police will look into concerns in a way that would never happen in the urban neighborhood where I live. So, I suggested he consider calling the police.
posted by desuetude at 7:11 AM on December 3, 2010


I'm glad you called. This wasn't really an ethical dilemma, as I see it. You weren't talking about some sort of property crime here, but about violent sexual assault. The consideration we might give to general principles of rehabilitation should naturally be modified depending on what the worst case of non-rehabilitation would be. In this case, it's pretty awful.

But, one can cast this in terms that have nothing to do with crime and punishment, and it still becomes clear that telling your neighbor was the correct choice. Suppose you knew of a friend who was a horrible driver, someone who had never been arrested, but got into a fender bender every couple of months. It would be completely appropriate to mention that history to the other friend who did not know it and was considering loaning the bad driver a car for the weekend. People are responsible for the consequences of their actions, even their "accidental" actions, and one of those consequences is that people will rightly revise their opinion based on knowledge of those actions.
posted by OmieWise at 8:05 AM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


This actually happened to me, was reminded about it when my old neighbor who's since left town came for a visit over Thanksgiving and it came up and we reminisced in a head-shaking WTF sort of bonding way.

Our landlord is and was and always has been a slumlord. Turned out his maintenance guy was a convicted sex offender who was already violating the terms of his parole or whatever by living illegally with his mom--her house was near a school or something. Well! My neighbor turns on the TV one evening and he's being arrested again, this time for murdering his mother. He didn't even shoot her, he used his bare hands and a knife or something and strangled her, apparently out of rage because she pissed him off. Our landlord, I'm positive, would not have even told us had my neighbor made it clear to him she had found out and was very upset (I'm sure he figured she'd tell us so he wanted to beat her to it to look ok or something).

In short, we were all very pissed none of us knew about his previous record. Since you seem positive, there's no way you've misunderstood, I vote let them know.
posted by ifjuly at 8:09 AM on December 3, 2010


had my neighbor NOT made it clear, rather.
posted by ifjuly at 8:10 AM on December 3, 2010


Look, I'm a pretty liberal person who has worked in child protection for 20 years. I do this work because I believe people can change and turn their life completely around. I absolutely get that there are "sex offenders" and there are SEX OFFENDERS. This guy is the latter. And the research on recidivism for the true sex offenders, the pedophiles and the serial rapists, is incredibly grim. Paying a theoretical debt to society does NOT make these men safe. Of course, prison often makes them more dangerous. While our society needs to do a much better job of helping these folks reintegrate, because continuing to be alienated from society also makes them more dangerous, we don't help them integrate by giving them jobs working with their preferred victim. It's like asking the opiate addict to be in charge of prescription painkillers at the hospital. And if this man had really done treatment and taken ownership for his crimes and his triggers, he wouldn't put himself in this situation, either.

In other words, good job, OP.
posted by purenitrous at 10:50 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know what your neighbor will do, of course, but in my experience, a reasonable ex-con doesn't take it personally if you decide to never let him in the house and make him surrender the keys (I'd change the locks, too). They're very aware that they are on probation FOREVER, especially as concerns anyone in a vulnerable position, such as a woman living alone or anyone mobility impaired.

In fact, depending on how long he's been out and off probation, I'm suprised and alarmed that he was even willing to take a key. From his point of view, he'd be the first suspect should anything happen to that woman, even a theft.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:18 PM on December 4, 2010


Apologies if this has already been covered; I'm about to go to bed so have only read the first half of the answers.

I would want to know, hell yes, and not for the safety issue (well, not just because of that). It's not just about knowing 100% that this guy poses no danger to me, my neighbours, anyone on my street or anyone in the world. I wouldn't hire him because he *violently raped two women*. Whether he claims to be rehabilitated or not, I would NOT want to be around anyone that had been that much of a scumbag. Fuck him. Tell your neighbour (and yes, in a calm way; as much of a dick as he is, I wouldn't support a witchhunt.) I'm all for 'yes, you've done your time and that's that', but rape is a massive exception to that for me and I suspect a lot of people. It's not like he stole a car.
posted by mudkicker at 4:37 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tell her. Given his past, his work should not involve having the keys to a single female's house. His work should not involve him having access to houses where kids live. He knows this. He should understand why his past behavior makes him unsuitable for this type of work situation. I think it's his responsibility to stay out of situations that will provoke fear and concern from the people hiring him. If he needs work he can go look for old men who need fences to be built.
posted by feelingcold at 3:43 PM on May 21, 2011


Just in case anyone wondered how this all worked out -- the neighbor was very reasonable about the whole thing. She let him wrap up the project, paid him for his work, changed the locks and has no plans to invite him back. She was also really thankful.

Over the next couple of months, after we hadn't seen him for a while, we told a few other neighbors too. He has not been in the neighborhood since.

We also contacted the Sheriff's Dept. sex offender unit, and they looked into it and verified his identity. As it turns out, he has a weekly limit on time spent within city limits, which he had been far in excess of doing handyman work on my street. I do feel responsible for a person who needs to make a living losing an opportunity to do so. But I'm happy with the outcome. Our neighborhood was already sketchy enough.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 5:18 PM on August 26, 2011


« Older All great libraries have books...   |  My best buddy, an Australian C... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.