TOWN OF JOHNSTOWN

There was a standing-room-only crowd at the Johnstown Town Hall as law enforcement officers and state employees educated concerned residents on the state’s supervised release program for violent sex offenders during a meeting Monday night.

The impending release of Jonathan M. Schaefer, 45, has residents worried. Schaefer is scheduled to be relocated to 349 N. County Line Road in Darien next week after living at Sand Ridge Secure Living Center in Mauston since April 1998.

Schaefer sexually assaulted two girls, ages 6 and 4, in Beloit in 1991. Less than a year later, he bribed a woman with a cognitive disability into having sex after the woman repeatedly said no.

The placement of sex offenders has been discussed widely in Johnstown after the town board started considering an ordinance to restrict the placement of offenders within town limits.

The board asked the state to present more information on the topic after learning of Schaefer’s placement. Employees from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which oversees the placement of violent sex offenders like Schaefer, led Monday’s meeting.

Robert Fugate is a sex offender registry specialist. He gave residents information about the registry and Schaefer, where they can go for more information or resources, what happens when an offender violates terms of release, and possible punishments for such actions.

“I think the primary goal is to make sure that the community is aware of this individual, aware of what brought them to return to the community, and additionally and more importantly, how to best keep themselves and their family and their friends and other community members safe within their own community so that they can effectively continue to live their lives,” Fugate said.

Scott Timm works as a contract specialist with the supervised release program and will help reintegrate Schaefer into society.

Timm, along with a probation/parole agent, sex offender treatment provider, case manager and others, will work as a team to rehabilitate Schaefer, Timm said. Supervisors will visit Schaefer on both announced and unannounced visits.

On Monday, he said Schaefer will be on house arrest for the first year and will only be allowed to leave if with a human monitor. Reasons Scahefer will be allowed to leave with a monitor include shopping for daily needs, schooling, employment, exercise, health appointments and religious services.

An ankle bracelet will monitor his location, and if he leaves the home, goes to an unauthorized location or cuts/rips the bracelet off, deputies from Rock and Walworth counties will respond to the bracelet’s last location.

The bracelet is “a really important tool that we use to ensure public safety,” said Luis Bixler, director of the electronic monitoring center for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

The DOC can issue its own arrest warrants, which makes dealing with bracelet issues easier, he said.

Sgt. Mark Thompson of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office said any calls in the area involving that residence or Schaefer will be treated as a priority call. Walworth County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Robert Hall said while residents can’t harass Schaefer, the community needs to work together to stay safe and raise concerns.

“These are issues that affect us. It affects the DOC workers, it affects their families, it affects us at the sheriff’s offices and I know it affects you,” Hall said. “The best thing we have to do is work together as a community and make sure everybody is safe, and that’s the ultimate goal.”