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MEEKER I Law enforcement officials held a community notification meeting Sept. 26, to inform the public of a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) living in Meeker.
Members of the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Department, the Meeker Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the Rio Blanco County Probation office and the Department of Corrections were at the RBC Fairgrounds to discuss the fact that Jefferey Allen Pedigo, 48, is currently living at 975 Cleveland Street in Meeker.
According to a Sexually Violent Predator Community Notification Bulletin, which was distributed to the more than 100 people in attendance, Pedigo was convicted on two counts of child molestation in 1997 in Indiana and has been identified as a sexually violent predator in Indiana.
State statutes require local law enforcement agencies to inform the public of a sex offender’s release when the offender has been determined to be a sexually violent predator.
Rio Blanco County Sheriff Si Woodruff, undersheriff Mike Joos, Meeker Chief of Police Bob Hervey, Lieutenant Phil Stubblefield, probation officer Mindy Burke and assistant district attorney Ian Fowler addresssed the release of a sexually violent predator into the community and provided educational information regarding sexual offenses before answering written questions submitted by those attending.
It was said Colorado has some of the strictest registration laws for sexual offenders in the state and there have always been sexual offenders living in our communities. SVPs are required to register with law enforcement quarterly for the duration of their lifetimes and their residences must be verified quarterly by law enforcement.
The RBC Sheriff’s Department has no legal authority to direct where a sex offender lives without court restrictions in place.
As of Sept. 17, 2012, there are more than 15,000 registered sex offenders in Colorado and approximately 192 are registered as sexually violent predators. As of Sept. 9, 2012, there are six registered sex offenders living within Meeker town limits, three living or working in unincorporated Rio Blanco County and eight registered as living within the Rangely town limits.
The bulletin lists Pedigo, 49, as 5-foot, 9-inches tall and 282 pounds, with gray/black hair and blue eyes. Pedigo drives a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee, black in color.
Pedigo is currently serving two years of probation for failure to register as a sex offender. Burke is Pedigo’s probation officer. Pedigo shall not go to or loiter near schoolyards, parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, arcades or other places primarily used by children. He shall not access, possess, utilize or subscribe to any sexually-oriented material, purchase, possess or consume alcohol or mind-altering drugs and he cannot use or possess distance vision enhancing or tunnel focusing devices, cameras or video equipment.
The “Containment Approach” is being used, which was described as criminal justice supervision, sex offense specific treatment (which Pedigo has completed in Indiana), a polygraph examiner and community members.
It was said that the community has a “vested interest in helping offenders be successfully managed in the community,” and research shows vigilantism, harassment, threats or intimidation of the offender is counter-productive to the goals of community management and “may cause offenders to go underground.”
Sheriff Woodruff said vigilantism or use of any of the information provided at the notification to harass, threaten or intimidate the offender is criminal behavior and will not be tolerated.
It was suggested that parents avoid scary details when talking with their kids, to use language that is honest and age-appropriate and to teach children not to visit the offender’s home or yard but not to harass him.
The “Stranger Danger” program was mentioned and available but it was also noted that the majority of sexual offenses are committed by someone the victim knows and the majority of sex offenders are not caught or detected, which makes it important to teach children to tell a safe adult if anyone acts inappropriately towards them or if they feel threatened. Role play was also suggested, avoid high risk situations, to be observant of one’s surroundings, teach children adults are not always right and to teach the importance of honesty and the danger of keeping secrets.
People can call the RBC Sheriff’s Office at 878-9620 or Burke at 878-0263 for more information.