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Home of sex offender picketed

11-4-2004 Maine:

Police do nothing knowing full well what the community is doing is against the law including the registry law! ----SEE REPORT OF HIS DEATH BELOW----

HOLLIS — The next-door neighbor of a convicted sex offender just out of prison said she will continue protesting in front of his home until he leaves. ... Even if convicted sex offender Joseph Tellier were to leave, however, there would still be 16 convicted sex offenders living within a five-mile radius of north Hollis, according to the Maine Sex Offender Registry. The registry shows that most communities are home to convicted sex offenders.

When Tellier, 57, settled in Hollis after serving 15 years for molesting and beating a 10-year-old Saco girl, his arrival gathered considerable attention. The publicity had nothing to do with legal notification requirements - there were none in this case - but resulted instead from the efforts of his victim, 26-year-old Michelle Tardif, still of Saco. Tellier, who lives at 135 Waterboro Road in a home with Halloween decorations and several large no trespassing signs outside, could not be located for comment.

Tardif went door-to-door to alert residents of Tellier's history. State law does not require those convicted before June 30, 1992 to register as sex offenders, said Tardif, who wants the Legislature to close the loophole. Civil libertarians, defense lawyers and some criminal justice officials have said that alerting residents to the presence of a sex offender can lead to attacks by vigilantes, can make it almost impossible for the person to earn a livelihood, and can force some convicts to abscond, making it harder to keep track of them.

Because of Tardif's efforts, Tellier's arrival in the neighborhood of single-family homes attracted more attention than most registered sex offenders. Earlier this week, about 15 neighbors holding signs protesting Tellier's presence gathered in front of the split-level ranch home where he lives. But one resident said neighbors need to put Tellier's arrival in perspective. There were sex offenders in the area before Tellier arrived, and others would still be around even if he were to leave, said Michelle Gentry, who runs a day-care center for 50 children about half a mile from Tellier's home.

The organizer of the protests, Grace Cameron, lives with six children between the ages of 6 and 13 in the home next door to Tellier's. Since Tellier moved in, Cameron said she no longer allows her children to wait for the school bus unsupervised or play outside out of fear for their safety. "They're living like they are in jail," she said. Although the protesters do not gather every day, she said they would do so on a regular basis until Tellier moves elsewhere. "We want him out," Cameron said.

Another neighbor said Tellier's arrival had destroyed her sense of security and made her consider leaving the community. With a convicted pedophile nine doors down the street, Denise Pettinicco said the neighborhood no longer felt like the right place for her and her husband Bob to raise their 4-year-old daughter. Denise Pettinicco said she felt she had no choice but to buy a gun this week to protect her family. "I want to move. I don't feel safe anymore," she said. ..more.. : by SETH HARKNESS

Joseph Tellier, the sex offender shunned by Maine towns, dies
8-8-2007 Maine:

The man no York County town wanted died last week.

Joseph J. Tellier, 60, died three years after completing a prison sentence for the kidnapping and assault of a young girl, a crime that dogged him until his last days.

Tellier was a lightning rod in the debate over what Maine should do with sex offenders after their release from prison. His saga drew in state officials and lawmakers and was the driving force behind ordinances in four communities that now restrict where convicted sex offenders may live.

His crimes also brought the state one of its most outspoken advocates of tougher sex-offender laws -- Michelle Tardif, the woman Tellier tortured as a girl in a wooded area of York County.

Tardif vowed to continue speaking out for stricter sex-crime laws despite her attacker's death.

Tardif, now 29, got a phone call Monday morning from a prison official who told her Tellier was dead.

"I have mixed feelings about it," said Tardif, of Limerick. "A part of me likes seeing him miserable."

If misery is measured in picket signs, Tellier got a heaping serving after his release from prison in 2004.

He spent his final years as a nomad, moving from one York County town to the next as angry residents demanded he stay away from their schools, bus stops and day care centers.

His crimes remained in the spotlight largely because of Tardif, who went public with the story of her brutal May 1989 kidnapping in the days before Tellier was released from prison, and successfully lobbied for changes to the state's sex-offender notification law.

Interviewed Tuesday, she said she did not believe justice for the attack was done in Tellier's lifetime.

"He got away pretty easy," she said.

Tardif was 10 years old when Tellier abducted her from a Saco parking lot and drove her to a wooded area of Limerick. He molested her and beat her unconscious.

Tellier was charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. Prosecutors reduced the attempted murder charge as part of a plea bargain that initially resulted in a 29- year prison sentence.

The term was shortened to 24 years after a sentencing dispute that reached the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Tellier served about 15 years, his term cut for good behavior.

He moved to Hollis after his release.

Tardif, then 26, wanted state lawmakers to close a loophole that allowed sex offenders convicted before June 30, 1992, to move to towns without notifying police. She went door-to-door to tell Tellier's new neighbors about the attack. They picketed his home.

Tardif, with the help of former Portland Police Chief Michael Chitwood, had succeeded in her push to close the notification loophole by the time Tellier moved to Waterboro in July 2006.

He registered with the York County Sheriff's Department, which polices the town, and deputies alerted his West Road neighbors.

Tellier's new neighbors were livid. After what corrections officials said was a lengthy search for a place to live, he had found a landlord willing to rent him a home that happened to be just 840 feet away from the local junior high school.

Waterboro residents picketed in front of Tellier's home during the town's Old Home Days parade, just a couple of weeks after he arrived.

He was gone the next month, after selectmen passed an emergency ordinance that barred sex offenders from living within 2,500 feet of a school or child care facility.

Tellier moved to Sanford, a brief stay that ended when a motel owner asked him to leave. With the help of Department of Corrections officials, he relocated to Newfield and then Parsonsfield, each move a magnet for protesters and a quandary for state officials looking for a compromise.

"Has anyone suggested the parking lot of the York County Superior Court in Alfred?" Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara asked in an Aug. 28 e-mail to Gov. John Baldacci's office.

of several state officials trying to find Tellier a home amid the outcry from school officials, politicians and residents. He suggested parking a recreational vehicle on government-owned land.

Tellier asked his neighbors for compassion in an interview with the Portland Press Herald last year. He blamed his crime on drug and alcohol addictions that he said he had overcome.

"I'm not here to harm anyone," he said at the time. "You can't change it. The Lord's forgiven me."

State lawmakers introduced more than 40 bills meant to change the way Maine deals with its sex offenders during the last session, an uptick some legislators traced to the Tellier controversy.

Tardif said she likely will be in Augusta to testify in support of future sex-crimes legislation.

"When I first did it, it was for me," she said. "Now it's for other people who are out there."

Tellier died last week at his Parsonsfield home. He told reporters his heart was failing in the months before his death, but the newspaper could not confirm Tuesday whether that was the exact cause.

His wife, Claire, declined to comment.

"Typically, we don't discuss a client's medical conditions or issues," said Denise Lord, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, which notified Tardif of the death. ..more.. by ELBERT AULL Staff Writer


1989: Joseph Tellier is on probation for embezzlement when he abducts 10-year-old Michelle Tardif, who is riding her bicycle past the Saco Valley Shopping Center. He drives to a deserted road in Limerick and molests, beats and strangles the child, but she survives. Tellier agrees to plead guilty to sexual assault and kidnapping and goes to prison until 2004.

2004: Tellier, 57, settles in Hollis after serving 15 years. His next-door neighbor says she will continue protesting in front of his home until he leaves. Other parents of young children say they no longer feel safe in their own neighborhood and are considering moving.

JULY 2006: His move to a house in Waterboro that is 840 feet from Massabesic Junior High School leads to organized protests. The controversy follows him through a series of moves around the county.

AUGUST 2006: Nearly 100 Newfield residents gather at Town Hall to express concerns about Tellier, who has been living with his wife, Claire, in an RV parked in the front yard of their son's home.

SEPTEMBER 2006: Tellier moves into a mobile home in Parsonsfield.

FALL 2006: The towns of Waterboro, Lyman, Parsonsfield and Newfield all pass ordinances that restrict convicted offenders from living near day care centers, schools or other facilities where children gather.

Source: Portland Press Herald archives

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