The presence of a convicted sex offender in a Scarborough neighborhood populated with many young children has made residents uneasy and unsure about what, if any, precautions might be necessary.

Joshua C. Brown, 31, is now living at 2 Tall Pines Road. He was caught with child pornography in December 2000, and was sentenced to prison for possession, a federal crime, in January 2005. He was released early last month. He will continue to be on probation with the federal system until 2010, and will be a registered sex offender until 2017.

For a victimless crime such as Brown’s, some say he has paid his dues and should be left alone. Others believe that the amount of children in the neighborhood warrants preventative measures be taken to ensure their safety.

Detective Eric Greenleaf of the Scarborough Police Department said Brown registered with the department last month. Brown is under close surveillance, he said. His conditions of release are to have no direct or indirect contact with anyone under the age of 18 and to participate in a sex offender treatment program. Though Greenleaf said he understands the concerns of parents in the neighborhood, he believes that common-sense practices will keep them far from harm’s way.

“These people have small kids. Generally, you don’t let small kids go out and play by themselves anyway,” said Greenleaf.

He said that, with the extent to which Brown is being monitored, he poses little risk to children in the area.

“I’d be more concerned with the person we don’t know,” Greenleaf said.

Still, steps have been taken to inform neighbors of Brown’s presence. Police passed fliers around the neighborhood, and people who signed up for e-mail notification of when a sex offender moves in near them received that information. Greenleaf has had to field several calls from neighbors and has gotten a range of responses.

“There are some people saying he’s paid his dues, give him another chance, and there are some on the other extreme,” Greeleaf said. “There are a lot of people saying, ‘What if?'”

There has been talk among members of the neighborhood’s homeowners association about the role they should play in this situation, but they remain undecided. President of the association, Rolf Ankermann, said that any action taken beyond redistributing the same material as the police did would be out of their jurisdiction.

“We maintain the trails and take care of the pools and tennis courts,” Ankermann said of the association. “That’s our function.”

Ankermann, who has three children of his own, understands the concerns of his neighbors, but believes it’s up to the police to handle what he calls a “delicate situation.”

Greenleaf agrees that the circumstances are difficult to address.

“Obviously, child porn is a very serious crime,” he said, “but you also have to take into effect that there are no physical victims.”

As the neighborhood group continues to mull its options, no one expects anything dramatic to occur.

“We’re not going to picket his house,” Ankermann said.

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