BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. – A man labeled as a sexually violent predator was supposed to live in a mountain town in Boulder County, on parole. But Monday, the Colorado Department of Corrections canceled its decision shortly after a Change.org petition circulated and gained hundreds of signatures.
It is unclear if the petition was part of the reason for the change. The Boulder County Sheriff’s office had scheduled, as required by law, a meeting to notify the communities affected for Wednesday, but instead had to cancel.
In Boulder County, people move to the mountains for so many reasons.
“It’s beautiful. It’s peaceful. It’s a good place to raise a family,” said Linda Burt, a Ward resident.
And in these communities, near Bar K and Jamestown, several hundred residents are determined to keep it a safe place.
“Nobody wants to know there is a sex offender in their neighborhood,” said Heidi Prentup, with the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office had to break the news that convicted rapist Chris Lawyer was headed to Bar-K and residents sounded off in an online petition.
“We don’t have cell service. It doesn’t seem like he would be monitored correctly here,” said Burt, who signed the petition.
Law enforcement agencies and a special team are required by law to notify the community as soon as possible and to provide the community with experts and education about sex offender supervision and management.
“When you’re in prison for that long for this type of crime, you don’t get shoved into the mountains somewhere,” said Jesse, a Jamestown resident and petition signer.
Part of the law requires law enforcement agents to look out for the parolee’s rights.
“He was required to have an ankle monitor and that would not be effective where he was paroling,” Prentup said.
Monday, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement:
The Colorado State Parole Board has decided not to allow him to reside in the Bar-K neighborhood due to the circumstances of his case and the limited resources available that are needed to appropriately monitor and supervise him. In particular, the response time of law enforcement to the remote neighborhood and the lack of cellular reception.
Lawyer will be residing in another community within Boulder County, and once the details have been worked out about his new residence, information will be released to the public, pursuant to the Colorado Revised Statutes, which authorizes law enforcement agencies to inform the public of a sex offender's release when the offender has been determined to be a sexually violent predator and is subject to community notification.
“There was a lot of overlook as far as I’m concerned with the system so I’m glad our voices were heard,” Jesse said.
Bad cell service and response time from law enforcement were some of the reasons and some think the petition had something to do with it.
“I’m sure a lot of people are very relieved,” Burt said.
Editor's Note: This article originally stated that the Colorado State Parole Board canceled its decision to allow Lawyer in the Bar-K area. It was actually the Colorado Department of Corrections that is involved in making those decisions, but the Boulder County Sheriff's Office had said that it was the State Parole Board.