RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander mom said her lifestyle completely changed when a new neighbor moved in.
She used to love the close proximity and the ability to walk to almost anything in town.
She has two young kids and regularly checks the sex offender registry.
The Rhinelander mom wishes to stay anonymous. We'll refer to her as Linda.
Linda found out a sex offender moved in a few doors down from her by flipping through a local newspaper, She saw a small box at the bottom page with a notification.
"He kind of just snuck in," said Linda.
William Huntington moved close to Linda's house in May. However, Linda says she knew nothing until she did research of her own in July.
"When I saw what he was found guilty of I was in shock. I was in complete shock," said Linda.
He was convicted in Dane County for repeatedly sexually assaulting his 8- year- old neighbor about twenty years ago. He's now required to wear a lifetime GPS monitoring system.
Dana Wszalek works with the Department of Corrections in Rhinelander as a Regional Chief. Her office supervises people like Huntington in the community.
"What we do is not a cookie cutter type of approach to supervision; it's relative to what their risks are based on their case dynamics," said Wszalek.
State law requires high risk sex offender to live at least 1,500 feet from churches, schools and playgrounds. Restrictions on other sex offenders are left to local offices.
The Oneida County Sheriff's Office says there are no ordinances for sex offenders in Oneida County.
"They have different life experiences. They are a part of the community," said Wszalek.
Wszalek understands the wariness community members might feel.
"As a parent it's important to be aware of who's in your neighborhood," said Wszalek.
Linda said one of her 6- year- old child was planning on walking to school with friends this year, but instead they'll get driven.
"I feel like the neighborhood we moved into to be able to have these things has been taken away," said Linda.
Linda said she was shocked she didn't get a call or knock on her door from law enforcement.
Newswatch 12 reached out to the Rhinelander Police Department and Department of Corrections to see why no one contacted her.
"I'm all for giving people second chances but when I'm not notified and given the full story it's hard for me not to give it to them," said Linda.
Rhinelander Police Captain Ron Lueneburg says notifications are done on a case by case basis.
"There are several different levels in which we can notify the community," said Lueneburg.
Notifications can range from door to door knocks from law enforcement to letters or press releases.
"[It depends on] the level of violence the individual committed, if they were receptive to counseling, if they violated rules, all this goes into a matrix," said Lueneburg.
Lueneburg also said communication with children is an important way to help protect kids.
"Be aware, do you research know where they live, know what they look like," said Lueneburg.
Linda wonders if her children ages 8-and 6- year-old children will understand.
"'But he's our neighbor he's supposed to be our friend how is that a stranger, what do I say then'?" asked Linda.
The police department recommends parents set parameters with their kids.
Lueneburg said the community can help law enforcement when it comes holding offenders accountable.
"If you see these people doing something they shouldn't be doing, contact us," said Lueneburg.
Lueneburg wants the community to be a second set of eyes but not act as vigilantes.
"We're a small community. We're not a big city, but nonetheless that doesn't mean people don't have to be aware of what's going on around them," said Lueneburg.
Linda made some changes for her family in a way she thought would protect her children.
"We used to be able to watch them through the window and now, no," said Linda.
Rhinelander Police isn't required to notify neighbors door to door depending on the case.
Huntington is not on parole but does wear a life-long GPS tracking device.
When sex offenders move in, law enforcement sometimes holds meetings depending on the case.
Rhinelander PD did release a notification today on a different sex offender who will be released soon.
If anyone is concerned about a sex offender living nearby the department says don't hesitate to call and check the online registry.
|Story By: Phylicia Ashley