“Vermont sheriff risks his career by hiring a sex offender”

Vermonter Rich Cassidy, who chairs the CCRC Board, drew our attention to this extraordinary story of courage and compassion and plain good sense in the Green Mountain State.  Published last week in the Vermont weekly Seven Days, it tells the story of LaMoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux Jr.’s decision to take a chance on Timothy Szad, described as “a gifted carpenter and diligent worker” who is also “Lamoille County’s most notorious criminal.”

Here are a few introductory paragraphs to a story well worth reading in full.

In 2000, Szad stalked and sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy in the southern Vermont woods. He went to jail for his crime and served the maximum sentence. But his punishment didn’t end when he got out, in 2013. His release was widely publicized, which generated something of a vigilante reaction. So he embarked on a cross-country journey in search of a new home. When no place would have him, he wound up back in Vermont — this time, in sleepy Hyde Park.

The reception was predictable. Local residents circulated a poster with his photo on it, and some demanded that he leave. People took out no-trespass orders against him, filed false reports of Szad committing new crimes and even affixed an image outside his home that showed him hanging from a noose.

But the outcry died down after Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux Jr., who grew up on a local dairy farm, did something unexpected: He welcomed Szad. Marcoux met with him, talked to him, took an interest in his life. The sheriff told the sex offender he would look out for him, as long as Szad kept out of trouble.

“I had a responsibility to protect him as much as to protect people from him,” Marcoux said.

Szad described his police sponsor as “like a big brother.”

Several months ago, however, Marcoux went further. He hired Szad to renovate buildings that will serve as the sheriff’s department office.

 

The men have reached an improbable, and uneasy, alliance that has left Szad hopeful and Marcoux nervous: The sheriff is putting his trust in a man who, while he owns up to his crimes and says he wants to repair his life, still doesn’t completely trust himself.

“I still have sleepless nights,” Marcoux said. “What if I’m wrong?”

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret Love

Former U.S. Pardon Attorney Margaret Love represents applicants for executive clemency in her private practice in Washington, D.C.. An author of Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions (NACDL/West), she created and maintains the NACDL Restoration of Rights Resource and serves on the enactment committee of the Uniform Collateral Consequences of Conviction Act.

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