December 6, 1995

Child molester moves in near school

Bonnie Harris and Brian Coddington The Spokesman-Review
 

A child molester described as “a real danger to little girls” is living near a Spokane Valley elementary school, sheriff’s deputies said Tuesday.

Charles E. Smith, 24, moved into a house on the 6900 block of East Second a few weeks ago. His new home is about two blocks from Pratt Elementary School, 6903 E. Fourth.

Although most of Smith’s immediate neighbors are senior citizens, several children live in houses surrounding his.

Neighbors said students from Pratt Elementary walk through an alley behind Smith’s house on their way to and from school.

“This is a prime target for him,” said Denise McEuen, a neighbor. “That’s like handing him a smorgasbord of children.”

“I don’t see why there’s any concern,” Smith told The Spokesman-Review Tuesday night. “I’m in the process of getting myself straightened out. I’m getting things together.”

A female friend, who refused to be identified, said she decided to share her home with Smith “because I feel he was shafted before (in court).”

Smith was convicted of third-degree child molestation in 1992. In that case, he admitted sexually assaulting a 3-year-old girl.

He was also investigated for molesting a 2-year-old girl and her 3-year-old brother, but not charged.

Smith later moved into the North Side home of a woman convicted of chaining a mentally retarded woman in her back yard. Neighbors reacted angrily to the sex offender’s arrival.

Now McEuen and her husband, John, worry about their infant daughter.

“I don’t want my daughter growing up next to somebody like that,” she said.

After being arrested for shoplifting at a grocery store in February, Smith tossed his wallet into a garbage can at the store’s office.

Security officers later looked through the billfold and found five pornographic photographs of children.

Police Detective Jerry Keller said the children in the photographs ranged from 5 to 11 years in age. The pictures came from a European child-pornography magazine, he said.

“He just has this fascination with kids, little kids,” Keller said when Smith was arrested in February. “He’s a predator who’s a real danger to little girls.”

Smith pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and served eight months in jail. He was released Oct. 4 and recently moved from Hillyard to the Valley.

State Department of Corrections officials admit Smith had trouble staying away from children as required under his community supervision program.

Now, however, his supervision has expired and he no longer can be ordered to stay away from children, parks, playgrounds or schools.

The only requirement is that Smith register with the county as a sex offender whenever he moves - and he has complied, according to parole officers.

School district officials are aware of Smith’s new address, sheriff’s deputies said.

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