Placement of sex offender rattles nerves in Birnamwood

Location chosen by Milwaukee County judge, state health department

SHERMELL TABOR

A convicted sex offender being placed by the state in a Birnamwood residence starting this weekend is rattling the nerves of neighbors, but Shawano County authorities say there is nothing they can do to stop it.

The placement was ordered by a Milwaukee County judge, who approved a supervised release plan from the state Department of Health Services.

Shermell G. Tabor, 41, was convicted in Waukesha County in 1995 of second degree sexual assault, according to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Sex Offender Registry.

According to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access web site, the specific charge was aiding and abetting a second degree sexual assault.

Tabor pleaded guilty to that charge and was sentenced to six years in prison.

According to Shawano County Sheriff’s Detective Troy Ugoretz, Tabor was also convicted of two counts of first degree sexual assault of a child, but those charges aren’t listed on the state’s circuit court web site or the Sex Offender Registry web site, possibly because Tabor would have been a juvenile at the time of the offense.

In 2001, the state petitioned for the right to label Tabor a sexually violent person which allowed him to be held after his prison sentence in a secure mental facility, according to court records.

After five years of legal wrangling, during which Tabor was kept in custody, the petition was granted in 2006.

Tabor continued to be held in custody while receiving treatment at the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston during an appeal that was finally resolved at a Milwaukee County court hearing in September of last year.

The court found that Tabor had made “significant progress” in treatment and that his progress could be sustained while on supervised release.

It was also determined, based on the testimony of doctors, that it was substantially probable that Tabor would not engage in sexual violence while on supervised release.

The court also found that “a reasonable level of resources can (be) provided for the level of residential placement, supervision, and ongoing treatment needs that are required for the safe management of the person while on supervised release.”

A supervised release plan was ordered, but Tabor was still waiting for a placement location in December when the court determined there was “good cause to search for placement throughout the State of Wisconsin.”

It’s not clear how or why the Birnamwood location was chosen.

“I just basically get told they’re coming,” said Ugoretz, who distributed fliers in Birnamwood notifying residents of the placement.

A posting on the sheriff’s Facebook page indicates the department is not pleased with the placement.

“While the Sheriff’s Office does not agree with this placement we do not have the ability to stop it,” according to the posting.

Ugoretz said there is really no recourse either for neighbors objecting to the placement.

“It’s a court order,” Ugoretz said. “It’s not based on whether you want people in your neighborhood or like people in that area in your neighborhood.”

Ugoretz said it’s better for neighbors to be aware of the placement, which is why notifications were put out.

“I’d rather know where people are,” he said, “and our job at the sheriff’s department is to get the information out so that we can have more eyes and make sure people are aware of who is living in the area. I think they’re better off knowing than not knowing. I think they’re better off being informed, being able to help us, than being what I call blissfully ignorant.”

Tabor is being placed at N8995 Bluebird Road and will be under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.

He will also be wearing a monitor and be under GPS tracking.

“He’ll be monitored,” Ugoretz said. “He’ll be escorted everywhere he wants to go off the property. If he wants to go to the grocery store, somebody has to take him there. He’s not going to be going anywhere alone at this point.”

The residence where Tabor will be placed already houses one other convicted sex offender who has been there about three or four years, according to Ugoretz.

State law prohibits sex offenders being from placed within 1,500 feet of any location where children might congregate, such as a school or playground.

They also cannot be placed adjacent to a property where children reside.

Tabor’s new address will be 796 feet away from the nearest residence, but that residence has no children, Ugoretz said.

There is a home with children on the other side of the adjacent residence.

“The property that is adjacent isn’t the one that has the children, it’s the next property over,” Ugoretz said. “That’s been a point of contention with the people that are living there. They’re within 1,500 feet but they’re not the adjacent property so it’s within statutory requirements.”