Young sex offender poses high risk

Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley isn't happy about a high-risk, 13-year-old sex offender who is living on North Whidbey under unusual circumstances.

"The higher-ups in the state have just dumped him here," Hawley said last week. "Something needs to be done and it needs to be done now."

Nicholas Stroeder, originally an Oak Harbor resident, was released from incarceration Dec. 31 after serving a six-month term for sexually assaulting a pregnant woman at Alderwood Mall. Since then, the boy has been staying at the Child Protective Services building north of Oak Harbor. Until Thursday, he will be living in a secure foster home in the Oak Harbor area. He will need to be placed in a new living situation on Friday.

Off-duty sheriff's deputies and social workers are babysitting Stroeder around the clock. An off-duty deputy hired by the state at $40 an hour drives him to an Everett crisis center and supervises him overnight, then drives him back to Whidbey Island in the morning.

No family members will take him in, according to a state Department of Social and Health Services spokesman. Foster families have refused him and there are no appropriate facilities in the state with openings.

Stroeder is considered a Level 3 sex offender by the county's sex offender review board. He is deemed a high-risk to reoffend.

Stroeder, who is developmentally delayed, set his grandmother's home on fire when he was 9 years old, according to DSHS reports. He later attempted to rape his 9-year-old foster sister.

He pleaded guilty in Snohomish County on July 11, 2001 to a charge of indecent liberties with forcible compulsion in relation to the Alderwood Mall assault. Since he returned the the island, the sheriff's office has been handing out fliers about Stroeder in the neighborhood near the CPS building.

Hawley says DSHS hasn't followed sex offender registration laws. The sheriff's office did not receive a 14-day notification that Stroeder was moving to the county, which is required by law. The boy didn't even come to the sheriff's office to register until a deputy brought him in, Hawley said.

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