January 28, 2021

New sex offender in town sparks Hampden debate Council addresses mission situation

HAMPDEN – Notification that a new sex offender had moved into the Bangor Rescue Mission in town sparked an intense discussion at Monday night’s Town Council meeting on how best to educate residents about offenders and pass laws and ordinances that would prevent offenders from living together.

In a written update to the councilors, Town Manager Susan Lessard reported that three sex offenders moved into Hampden over the past week, bringing the town’s total registered offenders to 13.

Of the three new offenders, two were listed on the Maine Sex Offender Registry as residing at 396 Meadow Road, also known as the Bangor Rescue Mission.

This led residents to believe the mission, a nonprofit whose goal is to provide homeless men with temporary shelter and religious direction, housed five sex offenders.

During the meeting, board president Pastor Charles G. Farley explained that only three offenders live at the residence. In total, the mission houses five men, he said after the meeting.

Farley said one of the mission’s former residents was incarcerated for a probation violation not involving a sex crime. When this individual left the mission, Michael Harbovetz moved in. Therefore, the total remains at three.

Another offender applied for admittance at the mission, was declined, and proceeded to list the Meadow Road home as his residence on the state registry, Farley said. He does not live at the residence, nor should he, Farley said.

“He was denied admittance, and this was a gentleman who definitely should not be at the farm,” Farley said, using this example as a case where the system worked.

The “system” is an application process required to live at the mission, which mandates a complete assessment and recommendation from state probation officers and counselors.

Residents were not satisfied.

The council meeting drew approximately 15 residents, who questioned the council and Farley about daily supervision of the offenders, property values surrounding the Meadow Road mission and the possibility of introducing legislation to prevent sex offenders from cohabiting.

State Sen. Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, who was present at the meeting, has filed legislation but said it would not take effect for some time if passed.

Plowman, who lives two miles from the mission, said that one mission resident has been “obnoxious and leering at least at two 16-year-old girls.”

Mayor Rick Briggs suggested better tracking and notification practices to community members, the potential of holding neighborhood meetings, and said the town attorney has been researching state regulations to see whether additional monitoring of the offenders could be mandated.

“Everyone has the right to live somewhere, [even though] it is frustrating at times,” Briggs said.

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