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Few attend meeting as 2 sex offenders return to Wadena

Sarah Hustad, Minnesota Department of Corrections community notification coordinator, shared facts about offenders at a notification meeting Tuesday in Wadena. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal1 / 2
Alison Feigh, program manager for the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center shared ways that families can work to empower kids to avoid dangerous situations. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal2 / 2

Few residents outside of law enforcement and elected officials attended a public notification meeting regarding two Level 3 sex offenders returning to Wadena in November.

The city has not had a public notification meeting of this kind since 2012, and Wadena Chief of Police Naomi Plautz said, that meeting also had limited participation.

The meeting was led by Sarah Hustad, Minnesota Department of Corrections community notification coordinator, in the back portion of the Wadena Police and Fire departments. Other speakers included Alison Feigh, program manager at the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center, a representative from Someplace Safe in Wadena and three intensive supervision agents, who will closely monitor the two offenders.

The two returning Level 3 sex offenders are Timothy G. Bungert and Adam L. Schultz.

Bungert, 36, is a Level 3 registered offender convicted of solicitation of children to engage in sexual conduct; communication of sexually explicit materials to children in 2014 and has violated the requirement to register as a sex offender multiple times. Bungert has a history of sexual conduct with adolescent females (age 12-14). Conduct included sexually explicit conversations and attempting to arrange a meeting in person for sexual contact. Bungert was not known to his victims. Bungertmoved to Wadena Nov. 5 and will be living on the 100 block of Bryant Avenue SE. Bungert is under correctional supervision until Nov. 5 2028 and is required to register for life.

Schultz, 25, was convicted in 2013 of possession of pornographic work involving minors and most recently was convicted in January 2018 of knowingly violating his registration requirement or intentionally providing false information. Schultz possessed child pornography depicting minor males. Schultz was not known to his victims in this case. Schultz engaged in sexual conduct with a 9-year-old male victim, including asking for sexual contact. Schultz used a weapon to threaten the victim in order to keep him from telling others about the request. Schultz was known to this victim. Schultz moved to Wadena Nov. 1 and is living on the 100 block of Bryant Ave. SE. Schultz is under correctional supervision until July 11, 2028 and is required to register for life.

These two make up a list of six Level 3 offenders living in Wadena County. Five of the six have moved here in the last five months and five of six live in the city of Wadena. They are also a part of 41 offenders that live in the city of Wadena and 66 that live in the county. You can view information on Level 3 offenders by visiting the Minnesota Department of Corrections website and searching the offender search link.

Plautz said there are things behind the scenes that led to the need to have the notification meeting. These two have a history of not knowing rules or not following rules, so a team of three intensive supervised release agents will be closely watching these offenders. These agents typically have less than 30 offenders they monitor 24 hours a day.

"Rest assured, they will be highly monitored," Plautz said.

The agents explained that they will be checking in on the men often, without notice. The offenders are to provide schedules detailing their every move.

Offenders in the intensive supervision program remain there until they reach expiration of their sentence or complete the program. In this program, offenders are under house arrest, electronic monitoring (which may include GPS), random drug/alcohol testing, unannounced residential and work visits by the agents and mandatory 40 hours per week of constructive activity, which includes work, education, training and treatment.

Offenders are also required to comply with any special conditions of their release, which may include sex offender treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous and/or anger management classes.

These actions are in place to positively change the offender's behavior and require payment of restitution to victims of the offender's crime. The primary objective is public safety.

One resident that attended the meeting asked what happens if the offenders do not find employment. Agents said the offenders must have a plan to do so and must be seeking.

"If they are trying, we give them credit," an agent said.

Offenders are permitted two hours of shopping a week and are expected to be looking for jobs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily until they find a job.

While doing this, offenders are to have no sexually explicit materials, no contact with minors/victims, no alcohol/illicit substances, obtain/maintain full time approved schedule and no or monitored/restricted use of internet.

Offenders face return to prison for violation of these program rules.

While the supervising agents will have regular contact with these men, if people see something unusual they are to call 911, reaching out to the local law enforcement, who can then reach out to these agents if necessary.

Offenders are required to register their current address, place of employment, school/vocation and vehicles.

What you can do

While a community has no control over whether a sex offender is released to live there, residents are not to feel helpless, according to Alison Feigh of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center. You will likely see these individuals going about their days. While the public can assist in monitoring behavior and activities, where appropriate, the offenders should live free of harassment, Hustad explained.

"Try not to focus on these offenders," Hustad said. "The most dangerous ones are not the ones we know about, it's the ones we don't know about."

Feigh explained that the importance of caring adults in the lives of children is key in helping them avoid perpetrators. She recommends several tips that can help empower kids to avoid some bad situations.

Hold family safety nights

Go over all things safety including a fire escape plan, safety belts, bike helmets, calling 911, bus safety, internet and personal safety.

Connection conversations

Ask kids "what if" questions." What if someone calls the house and you answer? What if an adult asks you to do something you are not comfortable with? What if you get lost in a crowd?

Don't just have "The Talk," have many little talks. Ask kids which adults they feel they can trust.

Teach online safety

Victims of sex crimes committed by people they met through the internet were primarily 13-15 year old girls (75 percent). Half of the victims were described as being in love or having close bonds with an offender, according to findings Feigh presented.

It can be hard for youth to say no to someone they like, but talking to your kids openly about these situations, not yelling or talking down to them, may help them see dangers online and offline.

"Unhealthy adults try to pull you away from your safety net," Feigh said.

Resources to remember

Numerous resources were shared on how victims, families and interested parties can get help. Some included:

• Stop it Now! MN - (888)PREVENT

• MN Coalition Against Sexual Assault - (651) 209-9993

• Jacob Wetterling Resource Center (800) 325-HOPE, jwrc.org

• MDH Sexual Violence Prevention - health.state.mn/svprevent

• National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (800)843-5678, missingkids.com

• Office of Justice Programs Crime Victim Services - (888)622-8799

• RAINN - rainn.org

• Someplace Safe - someplace.info, 218-631-3311 - crisis: 800-974-3359

INFO BOX

Next week

This is the first in a two-part series on sex offenders in our communities. More information coming involves the work of local law enforcement and a broader look at some common misconceptions.

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