February 26, 2010

Sex offenders face new city limits

TOM BELL

— By

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — City officials are drafting an ordinance that would prohibit sex offenders from living within 750 feet of schools or other places where children congregate.

The proposal comes shortly after police learned that a convicted sex offender who was recently released from prison had moved into an apartment building across the street from Portland High School and next door to the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine. Seventeen registered sex offenders now live at 263 Cumberland Ave. and 273 Cumberland Ave.

The most recent resident, Brian Roy Haines, 33, also known as Brian Malmquist, was convicted of gross sexual assault in 2006 -- his victim was younger than 5 years old. Haines lives at 263 Cumberland Ave. Twelve offenders at the two addresses are classified as ''serious,'' and their victims were minors, Police Chief James Craig said.

The Legislature last session enacted a law allowing communities to prohibit sex offenders from living within 750 feet of public and private schools as well as other city property primarily used by children.

But a new city ordinance would not apply to sex offenders already living near a school prior to the state measure's approval.

Craig said he was surprised after moving to Portland earlier this year to learn that the city had no restrictions against sex offenders living near schools. In Los Angeles, where he worked for the Los Angeles Police Department, such restrictions were in place, he said.

Craig met with City Manager Joseph Gray, School Superintendent Jim Morse and Portland High School Principal Michael Johnson on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

Teachers at the high school have discussed the situation with students and talked about the importance of being aware of their surroundings so they can remain safe. A letter was sent to parents.

Craig said police have stepped up patrols near the school, and students and parents should not be afraid. He said there have been no incidents.

''This is a matter of being pro-active,'' he said. ''We'd rather get ahead of it rather than behind it.''

There are 165 convicted sex offenders living in Portland. Sex offenders often live in urban areas, Gray said, because cities offer a variety of services and a degree of anonymity.

''It's an unfortunate aspect of urban living,'' he said.

Gray said he expects the City Council's Public Safety Committee to take up the issue next month.

City officials are drafting the ordinance with the help of Councilor Dory Waxman, a member of the Public Safety Committee. Waxman and committee Chairman Dan Skolnik could not immediately be reached for comment.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at

tbell@pressherald.com

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