Monday, October 19, 2009

Donald Denbow - Repeat Sex Offender - Proves need for LIFETIME INCARCERATION

When police arrested Donald Denbow, 67, of Shirley, last week they say they didn't know he had a prior record. That's because he wasn't on the state's sex offender registry.

Lt. Scott Arno, of Dover-Foxcroft Police, said he had heard a rumor that Denbow had a past history, but he didn't know for sure. But according to court records, it's not just a rumor.

Denbow was convicted in 1982 of gross sexual assault. It was against his daughter, Bonita. He was sentenced to serve six months of a five year sentence, and then was on probation for three years. Bonita, who now uses her married last name of Page, called NEWS CENTER when she heard of the recent arrest and asked why he wasn't on the state's sex offender registry.

"At some point the state of Maine has to be responsible to keep track of their sexual predators," said Page.

The state's sex offender registry was created in 1992. Anyone convicted of a crime in which it is required to register is expected to come in compliance. In 2005, the state passed a law that made the registry retroactive to 1982. But the director of the state's Bureau of Identification said there's not enough manpower in his department to get the "tens of thousands of people who are in that category in compliance."

"It's a resource issue," said Matt Ruel, the bureau's director. "There are so many histories." Ruel said instead, the registry is dependant on police departments, prosecutors and the public to notify them of potential sex offenders.

"If we got a call from someone, we would absolutely research what happened in court," he said. The registry would then determine whether that person must register.

Ruel said in Denbow's case they weren't notified of his previous conviction until October 13, the day Dover-Foxcroft police arrested him on the new charges.
Denbow is currently charged with gross sexual assault. Police said he had sex with two young women hundreds of times between 2004 and 2008 when they worked for him at his barbershop in Dover-Foxcroft. Police say the assault of one girl started when she was 10 years old.

When discussing the new case, Page asked, "Why wasn't he on probation? Or why wasn't he followed through the years, so we can keep contact with these people so they can't hurt other children?"
Chris Almy, the district attorney for Piscataquis and Penobscot Counties, said agencies have a difficult time keeping track of the sex offenders of which they're aware. Adding it would be difficult on top of that to find all of the ones included in the retroactive law. "There's going to be lots of people out there who are not registered just because there's not enough people and time to find who they all are," he said.

Tim Robinson rented Denbow the space in Dover-Foxcroft, and said he looked on the sex offender registry to see if Denbow was listed after hearing a rumor. But when he didn't find Denbow's name he figured what he heard was just that -- a rumor.

"I saw some young girls in there with him after hours and such and I certainly would have let their parents know, or let somebody know that they were in there if I had known he was on the registry," said Robinson.

Ruel says the registry will now be notifying Denbow that he must become in compliance with the sex offender registry.
At the same time, because of a law passed this past legislative session, Denbow will also be able to petition to be removed from the registry because his conviction was in 1982.
Denbow is currently out on $500 cash bail, and is scheduled to make his first appearance in court on this charge in December.

"25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years"
.........Sarah Tofte

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