Offender's move draws future new neighbors' questions and compassion

People living in the Lone Lake and Crawford Road area gathered Monday night to hear Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley talk about the Level 2 sex offender who had just moved to their area.

Then they found out he might not be moving in for a while.

The registered sex offender, William Clayton Frizzell, 22, who is currently living with his aunt and uncle, Denice and Richard Epstein, plans to move to a cabin on Crawford Road the couple owns.

As the meeting got underway, Sheriff Mike Hawley announced that deputies were on their way to arrest Frizzell for a substance abuse violation that had occurred three weeks earlier in Skagit County. Under the terms of his parole, Frizzell may not drink alcohol or use drugs.

The order to pick him up was generated by the Washington State Department of Corrections, which oversees Frizzell's community supervision.

According to Charlie Wend, the Department of Corrections spokesman for Skagit, Island, San Juan Counties, Frizzell tested positive for marijuana use in Skagit County before moving to South Whidbey.

"We don't want to create bigger problems so he needs to be held accountable for poor choices," Wend said.

Frizzell was convicted in Skagit County of first degree rape in 1995 when he was 14-years-old. He served his time in a juvenile facility until 1999, and in 2001 was convicted and jailed for possession of controlled substances, possession of stolen property and driving with a suspended license.

Wend said he expects Frizzell to be released back into the South Whidbey community, where it appears he has employment and family stability.

Fizzell's uncle by marriage, Richard Epstein, was at the meeting to answer questions and to explain some of Frizzell's family history to the people in attendance.

"He was born into a family culture of sexual molestation," he said. "He's a good hearted kid."

Epstein said Frizzell was kicked out of his mother's house last December and was homeless in Skagit County for a time. He called Eptstein to find work.

"One day a month for three months he found his own transportation to the island to work for me," Epstein said. "We saw he was trying to make changes."

Epstein said Frizzell has a 20-year-old girlfriend living with him. He said he gave the couple bicycles to use for transportation because neither of them are allowed to drive.

Epstein owns a home building business and will employee Frizzell in the construction of homes.

Several people at the meeting commented they were impressed and moved by Epstein's desire to help and his compassion for Frizzell. But they were also concerned about safety.

"I feel more concerned about stolen property and drug use because that's what his latest convictions are for," said Teresa Coup.

Epstein said he and his wife have worked with troubled youth before and believe they are equipped to handle the situation.

Epstein said Frizzell, who was convicted for sexually assaulting minors, has been with Epstein's children and his grandchildren without incident.

Nearby resident Dina Sires has four children still had concerns.

"I am glad we know about him. I will be more aware," Swires said.

Mary Ramsay, a community correction officer from the DOC told the group that Frizzell doesn't appear to be violent, and with family nearby he has a support system.

She also assured his future neighbors that the DOC will be watching him closely.

"We will really get into his life," Ramsay said. "There are lot's of things that ordinary people can do, but he can't, such as consuming alcohol. He cannot drive a car because of past driving offenses and is subject to random searches of his home."

Hawley told the group they could contact the sheriff's office at any time with concerns.

Washington was the first state in 1990 to enact a sexual offender registration law.

Currently there are 85 registered sex offenders living is Island County. Photos and addresses of these people are available at the sheriff's office in Coupeville or the South Precinct in Freeland. Level 3 sex offenders, the most likely to reoffend, are listed on the Island County Sheriff's Web site.

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