Sex offender talks to new neighbors

Convicted rapist Troy Salmon, left, shakes hands with Lagoon Point resident Franc Sawatzki after a public information meeting about Salmon’s move to the area. Salmon was released from prison this week and is a registered sex offender. - Matt Johnson
Convicted rapist Troy Salmon, left, shakes hands with Lagoon Point resident Franc Sawatzki after a public information meeting about Salmon’s move to the area. Salmon was released from prison this week and is a registered sex offender.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

A registered sex offender who moved to Lagoon Point this week did something Tuesday night only one other Island County person in his situation has done in the past decade -- he showed up at a sheriff's public meeting about himself.

Troy Salmon, a convicted rapist recently released from prison, seemed to win himself some tolerance, if not popularity, when he spoke to about 100 of his new neighbors at the Greenbank Community Center Tuesday. His presence at the meeting marks only the second time that a registered sex offender has attended a public education meeting a addressing his or her move into an Island County neighborhood.

Salmon went unnoticed in the meeting hall until his parole officer, Mary Ramsey, advised Sheriff Mike Hawley of his presence. The notice came just seconds after Hawley told his audience what would happen to Salmon if he failed to register as a sex offender within his first 24 hours in Island County.

"If he does not do that, guess what? I get to send him back to prison," he said.

After Ramsey identified Salmon, the 39-year-old man accepted an invitation from Hawley to speak to his new Lagoon Point neighbors. Salmon, who is living with his mother and stepfather, said he is not anxious to return to prison and has no desire to hurt anyone.

"I came here tonight to let you people know who I am out of respect for your," he said. "You have no reason to fear me."

A free man on his first night out of prison in seven years, Salmon said he is not the person some might imagine him to be. Claiming to be innocent of his conviction for beating and raping a woman in Seattle in 1993, Salmon professed his interest in Native American spirituality and his desire to find a job and start working again. Salmon said he is a Native American and told his audience that he plans to practice his beliefs in his Lagoon Point neighborhood.

His audience applauded his statements, and several individuals thanked him for attending the meeting. At the same time, others reminded him that he will be watched once he moves into his mother's home.

"I really want to thank Mr. Salmon for coming tonight," said one Lagoon Point woman. "We will be watching you."

Expected to spend the next three years on probation, Salmon was categorized by Island County last week as a Level 2 sex offender -- an offender who is a moderate risk to reoffend. With a history of alcoholism and other crimes, he is on a relatively tight leash with local law enforcement. Hawley said Salmon is forbidden from drinking alcohol and taking illegal narcotics. Both actions would earn him an immediate trip back to prison.

Salmon's mother, who did not identify herself by name, said she will be her son's most attentive supervisor. Though she encouraged her neighbors to talk to her son and get to know him, she cautioned them against inviting him into their homes or giving him a ride in their cars. Under those rules, she said, they have nothing to fear.

"He did not rape her and he won't rape you guys," she said.

Sheriff Hawley did say that a friendly, supportive and watchful environment can reduce Salmon's chances to re-offend. But, he said they must remain cautious, both in regard to Salmon and to other sex offenders who are at large.

"There are other sex offenders in your neighborhood," Hawley said. "I can't tell you about them, because they haven't been convicted yet."

Salmon remained at the meeting until most of those attending had left. One of his new neighbors said he may have a job opportunity for him. About a dozen others shook Salmon's hand.

To stay in good standing as a free man, Salmon must actively search for work, abide by the terms of his parole, and register as a sex offender anywhere he lives in the state of Washington. The state has required sex offenders to register for the past decade.

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