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Vt. Sex Offender Returns to State

FILE-A photo released by the Vermont Department of Corrections is of Timothy J. Szad.,  the sex offender whose release from prison had Vermont authorities warning the public and cautioning that young blond-haired boys could be targets,  Szad still has not found housing about 10 days after being set free. A Burlington-based group that investigates abuse and advocates for victims of sexual offenses said in a statement that an out-of-state housing placement for Timothy J. Szad "had not come to fruition" and that he returned to Vermont late Sunday Aug. 4, 2013.(AP Photo/ Vermont Department of Corrections)

FILE-A photo released by the Vermont Department of Corrections is of Timothy J. Szad., the sex offender whose release from prison had Vermont authorities warning the public and cautioning that young blond-haired boys could be targets, Szad still has not found housing about 10 days after being set free. A Burlington-based group that investigates abuse and advocates for victims of sexual offenses said in a statement that an out-of-state housing placement for Timothy J. Szad "had not come to fruition" and that he returned to Vermont late Sunday Aug. 4, 2013.(AP Photo/ Vermont Department of Corrections)

Burlington — A sex offender who had planned to move to California after being released from prison was back in Vermont on Monday, and officials repeated their warning the ex-con could target young blond-haired boys.

Timothy Szad, 53, arrived back in Vermont on a bus on Sunday and is staying at a hotel or motel in the Chittenden County area, said Sgt. Dennis Duffy of the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations, a multi-agency law enforcement team that investigates sex crimes.

“He’s working with law enforcement and other state agencies to assist in finding suitable housing,” Duffy said. He added that Szad is being “fully cooperative,” with law enforcement and is reporting his whereabouts daily by phone to the Vermont Sex Offender Registry.

Szad was released from the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield on July 26 after serving his maximum sentence — with time off for good behavior — following his conviction in a 2001 sexual assault on a 13-year-old boy.

Authorities said he grabbed the boy, who was fishing on the Williams River in the southern Vermont town of Rockingham, carried him across the Williams River, handcuffed him and sexually assaulted him twice.

Officials said the initial plan for Szad’s release was to have him live with his elderly parents in Springfield, but that plan fell apart after a public outcry.

The case pointed up a tough dilemma: Police and corrections officials say the public needs to be notified when someone with Szad’s risk profile is released into the community. But public notification can create a backlash that makes the offender’s successful reintegration into the community less likely.

The best situation for a released sex offender usually is in a town where the person can get access to employment, counseling and other services, said Karen Tronsgard-Scott, executive director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

If public resistance forces the person to live in a more isolated, rural setting, she said, “we’re decreasing the likelihood that the person is going to be reintegrated into society and that they’re going to be monitored so they don’t reoffend.”

After the plan for Szad to settle in Springfield fell through, the Vermont Department of Corrections announced that Szad had told them his plan was to move to California.

But on Sunday evening, the Chittenden Unit announced that Szad’s plan to find a place to live in California “had not come to fruition,” and that he had returned to Vermont, arriving late Sunday.

Efforts to reach Szad on Monday by relaying messages through his family and Duffy’s office drew no response.