March 26, 2008 in Nation/World

Missouri sex offender says signs put his life in danger

Laura Bauer McClatchy
 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – LeRoy Schad admits he molested a young boy.

And for that, the 72-year-old man said he deserves to be punished. But he thinks a central Kansas judge took it too far, and now Schad fears his life could be in danger.

Schad worries people will harm him because of signs District Judge Ron Svaty ordered him to post around his home as conditions for his probation. The handwritten signs, which must be in four-inch letters, declare that Schad is a sex offender. The two magnetic decals he must attach to his Ford Escort when he drives to counseling sessions or to see his probation officer say “Sex offender in this car.”

“It’s been hell since the sentencing, I kid you not,” said Schad, who lives in tiny Hudson, Kan., and was sentenced to five years of probation and house arrest. “The isolation and the loneliness. … I’ve never heard of anybody having to do this.”

The judge, however, said he stands behind the sentence.

“I guess the question would be what if he would re-offend and I hadn’t done something like that,” Svaty said this week. “If I thought it was outrageous, I wouldn’t have done it.”

Besides, Svaty said, he feared Schad would be at greater risk in prison.

The posted signs are thought to be the first conditions for probation of this kind in Kansas and a rarity for the country. Several states have proposed creative measures to identify sex offenders, such as colored license plates, but Maia Christopher of the Association of the Treatment of Sexual Abusers said she has yet to hear of those measures passing.

Schad was initially charged with several counts of indecent liberties with the young boy and a young girl but in an agreement with prosecutors pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of solicitation. With no prior convictions, Kansas sentencing guidelines for the offense ranged from probation to about three years in prison.

Svaty said he took an expert’s testimony and the wishes of the victim’s family into consideration. The expert testified that Schad wasn’t likely to re-offend, Svaty said.

“The family had mixed emotions. They didn’t want to see him go to prison, but they wanted to see everyone protected,” Svaty said. “They said they wanted to make sure he’s never around kids and no one else is surprised by him.

“The family said, ‘We don’t want someone thinking he’s safe because he’s so old.’ ”

The signs outside Schad’s home are just another example of the lengths people will go to keep sex offenders away from the public, Christopher said.

“The question is whether or not these techniques are effective in managing the behavior of the offender or are we just escalating the risks?” she said.

Schad has lived in Hudson since the early 1970s and said he knows most of the 150 people who live there and they know him. A family friend now does his grocery shopping.

“He’s no problem,” neighbor Pete Witt said. “I don’t think anyone has any qualms about it. We have a lot more troubles with drugs in this town than we ever did with LeRoy Schad.”


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