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NJ- Police: ‘Sex offender’ flier possibly a prank

10-13-2005 New Jersey:

SOUTH RIVER — Police are looking for the party responsible for distributing unfounded information about a sex offender living in the borough.

Many residents on and around a section of Main Street last week were surprised to discover a letter in their mailboxes warning them of an alleged sex offender, even providing a name, address and color photo of a South River resident.

The person behind the document remains unknown, but there was no mystery in the message, accusing the resident of supposed sexual improprieties.

The letter, which reads in part, “I am an accused child molester; let’s keep this scum out of South River,” has been found to contain no validity, according to South River Detective John McKenna, who is investigating the case.

“The letter seems to be something done in very poor taste,” McKenna said. “It’s kind of bizarre. At this juncture, there doesn’t seem to be any validity to it.”

McKenna said the accused has no known criminal record.

Still, he noted, the letter has alarmed area residents, including children, who have approached the officer, also a DARE teacher in the South River school system.

“At this point, I’ve come up with nothing other than this person exists,” he added. “But other than that, that’s where it ends.”

Police could neither confirm nor deny they knew the identity of the party who created the letter.

“There’s not enough information to comment on the potential parties responsible,” McKenna said. “It’s still under investigation.”

A search on the New Jersey State Police Web site for the name of the individual accused turned up negative, listing only one person registered as a sex offender in South River.

Yesterday morning, a woman identifying herself as the mother of the person accused in the letter left a voicemail with Greater Media Newspapers, saying there is no validity to the accusations, and that her son does not even live at the listed address.

“There is nothing,” she said. “This is just somebody that is just in for revenge. But there’s not too much you can do about it.”

She might be right, as McKenna said the only laws that appear to have been broken are a local ordinance forbidding the posting of bills, and the harassment of the accused.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office has been informed of the situation, he said, and defamation of character charges could be filed against those who issued the letter.

“If [the accused] elected, it’s something he could possibly capitalize on,” McKenna said. “It’s really up to him, not us.”

The detective said the moral impact brought about through the letter is far greater than any legal ramifications.

“I’m not certain if it was a prank or someone being mean to someone,” McKenna said. “Hopefully, we’ll get to the bottom of it.”

The event comes during a time when many towns throughout New Jersey, some in Middlesex County, are adopting ordinances forbidding registered sex offenders from living near places such as schools, bus stops and parks. South River has not introduced such an ordinance. ..News Source.. by JOHN DUNPHY, Staff Writer

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