RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. (WMTV) -- 2019 marked a new chapter for single mom Jamie Shannon and her three kids, starting over on their secluded Richland Center farm. But the early days of 2020 brought troubling news.
“I was informed last Tuesday when the Sheriff's Department showed up and said, 'Hey, there's a registered sex offender moving in on Thursday.' And I was in shock at that point,” Shannon tells NBC15 News.
Shannon received a flyer introducing her to future neighbor 64-year-old Richard Sugden, a sex offender moving just 100 feet from her front door.
“He was originally convicted in Richland County in 1976 of rape and sexual perversion, and in 1997 first degree sexual assault and child abduction,” Shannon says. “I was terrified. We are literally the people he has preyed on, a woman and children."
Shannon says her kids, 12-year-old Gage, 11-year-old Wyatt and 8-year-old Tenley, would all have to pass Sugden’s home to make their way to or from the bus stop.
“They're terrified,” she says. “The first thought is, 'Let's move.' But I don't think we should have to be forced out of our home. That would give him more rights than we have. That's not fair."
Shannon says part of her concern is the lengthy drive from her country home into the city of Richland Center.
“He’s got that GPS monitor, but we’re about six miles from the police station, so what’s their response time going to be?”
Since hearing the news, Shannon created a Change.org petition asking for support. Already, it has received nearly 4,000 signatures backing Shannon’s family.
“I kind of figured the community would back me up on this, but I did not expect that response,” she says.
NBC15 News reached out to the Department of Corrections and also tried to contact Sugden. So far, neither have responded.
A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. at the Richland County Courthouse to determine whether Sugden will be allowed to move in. Shannon says she will attend, and expects more than 100 people to come along as well.
According to state law, residency restrictions apply to sex offenders identified as “sexual predators” or “sexually violent persons.” State law blocks those offenders from living within 1,500 feet of places like schools, public parks and youth centers. Municipalities can choose to enforce their own set of restrictions.