Jefferson parents worry about sex offender
A high-risk sex offender living a block from Fargo's Jefferson Elementary has caught the attention of school parents and neighbors. About 50 people attended a meeting Thursday hosted by the Fargo Police Department to ask questions about Level III...
A high-risk sex offender living a block from Fargo's Jefferson Elementary has caught the attention of school parents and neighbors.
About 50 people attended a meeting Thursday hosted by the Fargo Police Department to ask questions about Level III offender Jan Jones, who lives at 1629 2nd Ave. S.
Jones has three Minnesota convictions for improper sexual conduct, two of them as a minor. He has been living in Fargo since April.
Fargo Police Chief Chris Magnus acknowledged the department mishandled the public notification, which should have been given months earlier but got "lost in the shuffle."
Fargo police notify the public when offenders classified as Level III -- the most likely to be a repeat offender -- move into the city.
The department also receives notification of Level I and II offenders, but doesn't hold public meetings for those. Fargo police received notice that Jones was an offender living in Fargo, but his Level III classification got overlooked, Magnus said.
A citizen noticed Jones on the police Web site and brought it to the department's attention that no public notification had been held, Magnus said.
"We're not happy about that, but it happened," Magnus said. "All I can do is apologize on behalf of the department for that and pledge that it won't happen again."
Fargo Police Lt. Tod Dahle said he found out about the oversight on Tuesday and put together the public notification as soon as possible. Dahle also took steps to ensure no other offenders like Jones were overlooked, he said.
Sharlynn Torkelson lives kitty-corner to Jones and worries about letting her 9-year-old son ride his bike around the block. She also attended a meeting at Jefferson Elementary, where parents are organizing to notify everyone about the offender.
Jones' most recent offense was in 1997. He was convicted for that offense in 2000 for fifth-degree assault for fondling a 10-year-old girl on two occasions in Itasca County.
The other two convictions were for fondling a 6-year-old girl in Hennepin County and fondling a 10-year-old girl in Dakota County.
All three offenses were against someone he was an acquaintance with, Dahle said.
Jones first moved to Fargo in January 2001, Dahle said. But he wasn't classified as a Level III offender until late 2002. At that time, Jones had moved out of the area.
Jones returned to Fargo in early April. He has consistently registered as a sex offender, which he will be required to do for life, Dahle said.
Since living in Fargo, Jones has not had any problems with police, not even a speeding ticket, Dahle said.
Jones' landlord, who asked not to be identified, said he didn't know Jones was a sex offender until seeing it on the news Wednesday night.
"I was really shocked because he was so nice," he said Thursday.
Jones lives in the lower level of a three-plex with his girlfriend and another woman. The two women are on the lease, but Jones is not, he said.
The three have been nice, quiet renters who have paid rent on time, the landlord said.
Fargo has eight Level III sex offenders and none of them has been accused of offending again.
Magnus attributes that to the watchful eye of police officers and community members.
Dahle spoke with Jones about the public notification, and he said he's worried about the scrutiny.
"He's very concerned and that's good news for all of us," Dahle said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590