Essex Police and the Essex Community Justice Center held a virtual community meeting tonight where the public expressed concern about the release of a high-risk sex offender after 25 years in prison.
51 year-old Craig Yandow plans to move to Essex following his October 13 release. Women in the virtual meeting expressed their thoughts.
“This is just a ticking time bomb,” a concerned community member said.
In 1996, Yandow chased a woman in Burlington, dragged her from the street, and sexually assaulted her. The survivor, Kami Calevro, issued a statement ahead of his release.
“Let us assure our girls and women that there is no shame in rape,” Calevro said. “Let them know that there is a full life after violent crime, and let us remind everyone that no matter the outcome we all must come together for the greater good of society.”
Another woman shared her concern, but did not share her name.
“I think a lot of women in the community are very very scared,” a community member said. “We are very concerned for our safety and our children’s safety.”
There are no limitations on where Yandow can go. Because he served the maximum sentence, he’s not under the supervision of probation and parole. Essex Police Chief Ron Hoague said the community’s safety is their top priority.
“Certainly understandable that this is scary,” Hoague said. “We have to unfortunately treat him like any other citizen.”
The Reentry Coordinator for Essex Community Justice Center Kristina Nunn said they have put out an offer to Yandow to offer him support
“What studies show is that when we support and give regard to people that have been incarcerated and have offended, they are less likely to offend again,” Nunn said. “So that is our goal.”
It’s unclear whether Yandow will accept that offer. According to the Vermont Sex Offender Registry website, 22 offenders are living in Essex Junction.
Chief Hoague advises women who are walking to carry pepper spray, and to talk on the phone if they have to walk alone.