April 02, 2020

Limits on sex offenders face voters in two towns

PORTLAND – Two towns in York County will be the first in Maine to vote on proposed ordinances to limit where registered sex offenders may live.

If approved, the Nov. 7 ballot questions in Waterboro and Lyman would set minimum distance limits between offenders’ residences and schools and day care centers.

Similar residency restrictions have been challenged in court in other states, and the Maine Civil Liberties Union said the proposals in the two towns raise serious constitutional issues.

“This is definitely a new trend in Maine, and it’s a worrisome one,” said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the MCLU.

Waterboro Selectman Evan Grover acknowledged concerns about a possible lawsuit, but said it was necessary to take action. The Board of Selectmen recently adopted the measure for 90 days so it would be in effect before the election.

“It seems like we protect sex offenders better than we protect our children,” Grover said.

Waterboro’s proposed ballot question would require that sex offenders live no closer than 2,500 feet from schools and 1,000 feet from day care centers. The measure in Lyman is similar.

The issue came to the fore this summer when Joseph Tellier, 59, one of Maine’s most notorious sex offenders, moved to a Waterboro home 840 feet from Waterboro Junior High School. Tellier was released from prison two years ago after serving time for the 1989 abduction, molestation and beating of a 10-year-old girl.

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