Family explains their decision to take sex offender into home

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CLOSE TO HOME: RESPONDING TO SEXUAL ASSAULT IN OUR COMMUNITY

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Family explains their decision to take sex offender into home

‘We trust Will playing with our children in a supervised situation’
Gerry Geraghty sits at the head of the table across from his wife, Lauren Geraghty, and next to sons Sean, 9, in stripes, and Noah, 7. Next to Lauren is Will Vollert, who an assessment labeled a sexually violent predator. The Geraghtys took him in because they believe he is not a threat and deserves a fair shake. “In a sense, we’ve adopted him,” Gerry Geraghty said.
Will Vollert said he didn’t really think about how people would react to the label sexually violent predator until he was released from prison. “It makes me feel like I want to stay in my room,” he said.
Will Vollert, left, plays Legos with Sean Geraghty, 9, back facing, and Noah Geraghty, 7. Although a psychological assessment labeled Vollert a sexually violent predator, he is not prohibited from being around children.
Sheriff’s office gets ‘nonstop phone calls’ about offender

Several neighbors were stunned last week to learn a convicted sex offender had moved into their neighborhood.

William Vollert, who has been labeled a sexually violent predator, is living near a bus stop, the Animas River Trail, in a neighborhood with children and near a staircase leading to Riverview Elementary School.

“We have kids going up and down those stairs every day, and he should not be there,” said Jane Periman, who lives on the same street.

Vollert is living at 10 Rio Vista Circle with Gerry Geraghty, and his family, including two boys, ages 7 and 9.

Geraghty never informed his neighbors that Vollert would be moving in, said Angela Lokken, who lives nearby.

“You would think if you were going to be a good neighbor, you would give your neighbors a heads up,” she said. “It’s definitely the talk of the street.”

Gary Somsen, who also lives on the street, said he’ll have to keep closer tabs on his grandchildren when they visit him.

“We’ll just make sure we always know where they are,” he said.

He added: “I guess he’s got to live someplace. I wish there was someplace else, but you can’t bring an island out in the middle of the Pacific and put them on it.”

La Plata County Sheriff’s Cpl. Suess Beyer, who oversees the sexual offender registration program, said it has received “nonstop phone calls” since Vollert’s new address was released last week in The Durango Herald. Most people want to know why Vollert is allowed to be around children, he said. They are concerned he is living in a neighborhood with children and within a few hundred feet of the staircase that leads to Riverview Elementary.

“It’s not against the law right now for him to be around children,” Beyer said. “I can’t dictate where he lives.”

He warned residents it is against the law and counterproductive to harass, intimidate or harm sexual-assault offenders. Doing so can drive them underground and make them stop registering as sex offenders, which makes it harder for authorities to track them and their progress, he said.

Beyer said he doesn’t know if Vollert is a threat. The answer may depend on if he’s answering as a parent or a deputy, he said.

“I don’t want to say I’d let my kids hang around him, but I don’t want to say he’s stalking children,” Beyer said. “He did not stalk a child.

“I’m very cautious as a parent,” he added. “I never want to put them in harm’s way.”

Geraghty said he plans to help Vollert, regardless of any backlash from neighbors.

“We’re for him no matter how much heat people in the community want to put on us,” he said. “Society needs to find ways to include people and not ostracize them.”



shane@durangoherald.com

Family explains their decision to take sex offender into home

Gerry Geraghty sits at the head of the table across from his wife, Lauren Geraghty, and next to sons Sean, 9, in stripes, and Noah, 7. Next to Lauren is Will Vollert, who an assessment labeled a sexually violent predator. The Geraghtys took him in because they believe he is not a threat and deserves a fair shake. “In a sense, we’ve adopted him,” Gerry Geraghty said.
Will Vollert said he didn’t really think about how people would react to the label sexually violent predator until he was released from prison. “It makes me feel like I want to stay in my room,” he said.
Will Vollert, left, plays Legos with Sean Geraghty, 9, back facing, and Noah Geraghty, 7. Although a psychological assessment labeled Vollert a sexually violent predator, he is not prohibited from being around children.
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