[Now THIS is the best reason of all to publish a newspaper. I love my adopted hometown paper.]

Sex offender will live in Ellsworth

Thursday, December 15, 2005

By Jen Cullen

More than 100 people showed up at a meeting Tuesday to get more information about a convicted sex offender who will be moving to Ellsworth after he?s released from prison this week.

William J. Murphy, 57, was found guilty in 1995 of two counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child under age 16, one count of sexual exploitation of a child and felony possession of a firearm.

The 1989 incident that landed Murphy a 15-year prison sentence took place at his former Town of Trimbelle home. Murphy, then 41, had sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl, forced her to have sexual contact with him and videotaped the girl, according to court records.

Because Murphy was convicted under older Wisconsin laws, he was only required to serve two-thirds of his sentence 10 years in his case before being released.

Wisconsin law requires sex offenders to move back to the county in which they were convicted.

?Nobody in this room, including me, likes the fact that he?s coming here. Nobody likes to think about him near our children or our schools,? said Pierce County District Attorney John O?Boyle. ?But we?re stuck with him, whether we like it or not.?

Terms of release

Murphy will live within blocks of Ellsworth High School, Ellsworth Middle School and Hillcrest Elementary School at 120 S. Piety St. the Check Inn Motel*.

[ Yahoo! Maps ]
Map of
Check Inn
120 S Piety St
Ellsworth WI

He will be required to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet for at least 90 days and is to have no unsupervised contact with minors or the victim of his crime.

Wisconsin Department of Corrections specialist Tom Petta said Murphy will not be allowed out of his residence when school children may be present. Those times include hours before and after school.

Murphy, who does not have a job lined up for when he?s released, will be on parole until 2010. He will be on supervision until 2020.

?Restrictions are going to be pretty common with this person,? Petta said. ?Probably even more so than you would ever think.?

Murphy will not be allowed to go to bars, or to consume drugs or alcohol. Any violation of these rules could result in a Class H felony, which is punishable by a maximum of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

While restrictions will be common to protect children and other residents, DOC officials said it?s also important that Murphy learn to adjust to the community.

That means he will be allowed to go to church under supervision if he chooses and that he will be seen in the community.

?We don?t know if he?s going to reoffend. But we take the position that there?s a high risk he will,? said DOC sex offender registration specialist Joe Fitzpatrick. ?But there?s no way he can have no contact with people.?

Concerned citizens

Concerned residents and parents were asked to write their questions or comments down and submit them to officials at the Tuesday night meeting.

Nobody was allowed to ask questions in front of the rest of the crowd.

Ellsworth Police Chief Greg Place said he understands people?s fear and frustration.

?I?d be sitting right there in the front row with you guys on this one,? Place said. ?But this is part of life and it?s something we have to deal with.?

Fitzpatrick said sex offender registration laws are not meant to cause fear. Knowing a sex offender is coming into a community can give parents a reason to educate their children to keep them out of harm?s way.

It?s important to realize, Fitzpatrick said, that the victim knows his or her attacker in 93 percent of sexual assault cases.

Murphy, who is a repeat offender, knew some of his victims, but preyed on a few who were unfamiliar to him.

That?s where education and the use of the state?s online sex offender registry, comes in handy.

?Because of the advent of the Internet, digital photos and e-mail, you have to monitor your children?s computer use,? Fitzpatrick said. ?They are more likely to become a victim of someone in cyberspace than of someone like Mr. Murphy or someone else who has their picture and address on the Internet.?

Officials at the meeting encouraged residents to check out the sex offender registry and to spread the word to those who couldn?t attend the meeting.

*Aptly, the Check Inn is listed on Yahoo as a great “romantic getaway” under Wisconsin B&B’s.

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