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Sex offender will reside in New Richmond

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A registered sex offender is being released from prison and will take up temporary residence in New Richmond.

Eric Lawson was convicted of second degree sexual assault of a child and false imprisonment related to an incident in July of 2006.

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Lawson, who was allegedly drunk at the time, entered a random home in New Richmond and accosted a young girl.

Lawson has been serving his sentence at Oshkosh Correctional Institution. He will be released on probation Tuesday, March 24.

The New Richmond Police Department is required to inform the community when a registered sex offender moves into the city.

According to Police Lieutenant Jerry Cody, Lawson is scheduled to live at the Lowrey Hotel, 116 W. Third St., in downtown New Richmond.

"It's a temporary thing," Cody said. "They're looking for another place for him to live. At some point he'll be leaving New Richmond, but we don't have a timeframe."

Lawson will be subject to constant monitoring while he is living in the city, Cody reported.

Lawson will wear an electronic monitoring device on his ankle and the local police department will be doing unannounced spot checks to make sure the offender remains where he is supposed to be.

Lawson will also be subject to drug and alcohol testing to ensure that he remains sober. The nearby drinking establishments have been notified of Lawson's status and have been directed to contact police if the offender is drinking.

He is also required to have no contact with anyone under the age of 18, cannot own or use a computer and cannot view or possess sexually explicit materials.

The school district, and specifically the middle school, has been provided a photo and information about Lawson so that they can be on the look-out for him.

If Lawson is found to be in violation of any of his terms of probation, he can be returned to prison, Cody said.

"They (the Department of Corrections) feel confident that this guy will be OK," Cody said. "But if somebody sees something, they need to call the police department. This is a community thing -- community restrictions and community monitoring."

Violations can also be reported to Mike O'Keefe, corrections field supervisor, at 715-386-2617.

Cody said the region's probation system is "very good" and will do all that it can to make sure Lawson doesn't cause problems.

"We think he will be successful," he said. "If we didn't think he was going to be successful, we'd probably try to keep him out of New Richmond."

According to a sex offender information bulletin released by the New Richmond police, the community notice is not intended to increase fear among residents.

"It is our belief that an informed public is a safer public," the bulletin states.

Police officials warn that harassment and intimidation of registered sex offenders who are living in the community "will not be tolerated."

As of last week, there are 18,855 adult sex offenders who are registered in the state. About 5,149 offenders are on probation or parole supervision in Wisconsin. Several registered offenders live in and around the New Richmond area.

For more information on sex offenders in the state, visit http://offender.doc.state.wi.us/public/.

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