EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 31, 2008

Parents outraged by sex offender's move to Derry; Man living next door to private school

By Eric Parry , Staff writer

DERRY - Parents are up in arms over a registered sex offender's move to town - right next door to the Derry Montessori School.

Derry police issued a press release yesterday saying they had been made aware of an individual who moved to town and is on Connecticut's registered sex offender list. But they said the man "is not a wanted person or a suspect in any criminal activity."

Police held an informational meeting last night with parents from the Derry Montessori School at 65 East Broadway, and parents of children who attend the nearby Grinnell Elementary School after they received letters this week informing them of the situation.

The man's name is being withheld "while he fulfills his obligation to comply with New Hampshire Law," police said, but they said he should appear on the state's sex offender list by tomorrow.

Angela Gagne of Rockingham Road was extremely concerned when she found out from a friend that the man is living just a half mile away from where her children attend school at St. Thomas Aquinas, and across the street from MacGregor Park and the Derry Public Library.

Gagne said she contacted Town Councilor Janet Fairbanks, but was told there is little town officials can do because there is no state or town law that regulates where sex offenders can live. Gagne said it might be time to adopt such an ordinance in Derry.

"They can tell you that you can't have four cats, but you can have a pervert live next door," she said.

Fairbanks said yesterday that she is unsure how the town will handle the situation, but she will discuss it with other councilors.

"We need to figure out what is the best course for Derry to deal with it," she said.

Last month, Nashua officials attempted to adopt a sex offender ordinance that would have restricted certain sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of city parks, schools and day-care centers. But it failed to gain approval from aldermen and the mayor. A handful of other New Hampshire communities have approved similar ordinances.

Derry police said there are 25 registered sex offenders on the public list in town, and 13 others who are required to register with the state but are not on the public list. The department said it will take prompt action if it learns of any violations of sex offender registration laws or any other laws by anyone on either list.



"It is important for families to discuss stranger awareness issues with their children," police said. "They should be encouraged to tell a trusted adult if they are approached by a stranger or anyone makes them feel uncomfortable. Parents and other adults should contact the police if they observe suspicious or unusual behavior where children may be involved."