Violent sex offender placement pulled from Portage Co. home - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Violent sex offender placement pulled from Portage Co. home

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TOWN OF LANARK, Wis. (WAOW) -

A violent sex offender will no longer be placed in a rural Portage County home.

62-year-old Ronald Stewart was set to be released within the next week into the town of Lanark, however the holding company who purchased the property withdrew their offer to the state.

"We were reaching out to the vendor who contacted me in regards to some of the concerns that they've seen," said Portage County Sheriff Mike Lukas. "Asking again some of my concerns, they re-evaluated the situation and yanked the contract from the state."

Community members said they were relieved with the outcome.

"I honestly burst out in tears, I was so excited," said town of Lanark resident Amy Bahnke. "We were just all ecstatic, jumping around."

A meeting was scheduled to take place Wednesday evening over the placement of Stewart. However, the announcement of the change came just a couple hours before that. Instead, community members filled the town hall hugging and thanking the sheriff for his efforts.

"It's a great feeling to have that freedom again," said Bahnke.

Lukas said the state had been looking at placing two additional sexually violent persons in the home with Stewart. However, since the holding company pulled the contract no violent sex offender will be placed there.

The sheriff said his fight isn't over yet. There is still a violent sex offender in the town of Alban, which is also in Portage County. He said he's going to continue to fight the placement of more SVPs at that location.

Officials said no future housing options have been determined.

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Stewart was found guilty of second degree sexual assault in 1990 for forcing his way into a home with a woman he knew. Officials said he laid on top of the woman, put his hands around her neck and attempted to sexually assault her. The woman was able to get away. The crime was committed in Dane County.

Stewart was found guilty of first degree sexual assault in 1982 after sexually assaulting to children, ages 9 and 6.

Stewart is considered a sexually violent person, which means he meets a specific set of criteria including having a mental illness. He will be under intense supervision including an electronic monitoring program.

This is the third sexually violent person to be placed in Portage County that did not commit their crimes within the county.

The town of Alban, also in Portage County, had two sexually violent people placed in one home. One was removed for violating probation terms and there was a false alarm with the monitoring system.

Residents have voiced concerns to Newsline 9 over the placement of the sexually violent person. The Portage County Sheriff tells Newsline 9 a second SVP could be placed into the same home. A judge blocked Jeffrey LaVasseur from being placed at a home in Forest County.

A meeting will be held at the town of Lanark Town Hall at 7 p.m. State and local officials will be in attendance.

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