by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — About 20 Walsenburg residents attended a Sexually Violent Predator Community Notification Meeting Tuesday evening at the Spanish Peaks Public Library host by city police, the district attorney’s office, state parole and probation and the judicial district’s victim’s advocate department.
Frank Gallegos, 28, who was convicted of attempted sexual assault and witness tampering, will be living at 629 W. Fourth Street. He has successfully completed parole, so his only requirement is to register with local law enforcement.
Gallegos has been living in Walsenburg for approximately two weeks according to information provided at the meeting. The community notification bulletin provided at the meeting said Gallegos supplied underage female victims with alcohol and drugs then sexually assaulted them as part of a gang initiation.
Richard Bell, 70, who was convicted of sexual assault by a person in position of trust, will be released on parole on May 2, 2012, and will be residing at 615 N. Welton Avenue. His conditions of parole include that he cannot consume alcohol, frequent locations which primarily sell alcohol, or go to schools, playgrounds, parks, arcades or other places where children congregate. He is otherwise allowed to be in the community.
Bell was convicted of sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled person under the age of 18 after befriending the victim’s family at church.
To be deemed a Sexually Violent Predator, an offender must be convicted of some kind of sexual assault, and be determined by subsequent analysis and / or testing by the Denver Regional Diagnostic Center or other corrections-affiliated entity to fit the criteria.
Authorities made it clear that it is illegal to harass, intimidate or harm someone due to their status as a Registered Sex Offender or Sexually Violent Predator. There are currently no laws to limit where a sex offender resides, unless special restrictions are implemented by parole or probation.
During the question and answer session, the panel answered questions that dealt with how to inform children about these individuals, what, if any restrictions that were placed on the offender’s movements in the community and whether or not these individuals could be employed in a situation that put them in proximity of young people. Both Acting Walsenburg City Administrator Beth Neece and Walsenburg Superintendent of Schools Dawn Olson were in the audience and assured those attending the meeting that both entities do thorough background checks on all potential employees.
Citizens may obtain information regarding registered sex offenders and sexually violent predators living in the their communities through local law enforcement agencies such as the Walsenburg Police Department, Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office and the La Veta Marshal’s Office.
Citizens may also access information on the Colorado State Sex Offender website at http://www.sor.state.co.us.