Protecting Bangor’s children is a simple matter

Posted Nov. 16, 2010, at 5:59 p.m.

For the past seven months, we, along with other parents, have been trying to get the Bangor City Council to pass an ordinance preventing convicted pedophiles from living near playgrounds and schools here. We have spent more than $11,000 in legal fees, and devoted hundreds of hours to this cause.

Last month, the council “tabled” it, and did not provide us with a date for their next action. It seems clear to us the issue was tabled indefinitely, meaning they have effectively killed all our efforts for a cause that, according to one city councilor at the meeting, “is something nobody wants to talk about.”

You, like 100 percent of the parents we interviewed, may assume there already is a law in place. In Bangor, there’s none.

The ordinance would only have applied to those who have sexually assaulted a child under 14 years of age. It would not affect every sex offender. It would only apply to new pedophiles moving to Bangor, or those relocating in the city.

The boundary was 750 feet around schools, playground equipment in parks and other places where children congregate. According to Police Chief Ron Gastia, the ordinance would not add additional cost to the city because they already track known sex offenders in Bangor. And, while it is not a perfect solution, it puts into place rules where none exist now for dealing with what we discovered is a flood of sex offenders coming into Bangor.

Just minutes before the council meeting last month, a city representative met us in the hall, requesting a change that, in our opinion, would have watered down the ordinance to the point of being just a “feel-good piece of paper.” We felt pressured to sign, believing the council would take action only if we did. We refused.

The meeting began and the next 14 minutes treated us to a full display of everything the American people hate about their government. It was a quite a spectacle of confusion.

Councilors Geoff Gratwick and Patricia Blanchette at first voted to table the issue indefinitely (kill the ordinance), with Gratwick saying the issue was “too complex.” (The issue apparently wasn’t “too complex” when the city was pressuring us for changes in the hall minutes earlier.)

Blanchette treated us to a lengthy diatribe that included statements so ridiculous we wondered if she even read the ordinance. One of her alternative ideas was to teach children to “scream to the top of their lungs” if a stranger approaches them.

This ordinance clearly has nothing to do with the very rare cases of strangers snatching children in broad daylight. Based on research I’ve done over the last decade, most child sex predators stalk a particular child after seeing them (such as in a park or on their way to school), befriend that child and their family and then groom them — all before the assaults begin. They are then included in the “known to the victim” statistics.

Putting the onus of sexual assault prevention solely on a child by teaching them to “scream” is the most ludicrous suggestion we have heard in the months we’ve been trying to get this ordinance passed. The onus of child sexual assault prevention must be put on the predators themselves, and the adults in the community.

In just one day, we collected 815 signatures from registered Bangor voters who are requesting an ordinance prohibiting convicted pedophiles from living near playgrounds and schools in Bangor. Law-abiding Bangor citizens are overwhelmingly in support of this ordinance. Unfortunately, the Bangor City Council doesn’t appear to be listening.

There is much more to tell, including some startling statistics about Bangor’s sex offender population and why they’re coming here. Visit our website, www.protectbangorkids.com, to read the whole story. It also includes the contact information for each council member. We encourage Bangor parents to voice their opinions on this important issue.

A recovering alcoholic should not live over a bar and a recovering gambler should not live next to a casino. Pedophiles should not live near places where children congregate. It really is that simple.

Richard Hoy and Angela Hoy of Bangor are online marketing experts and assist victims of online scams.

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