U of M officials concerned about sex offenders


The mug shot shows a man who looks no older than 20. Closely trimmed hair, slender physique and a defiant expression make him look like a typical college student.

But he isn’t. He is a level 3 sex offender who lives blocks away from the University.

There are three level 3 sexual predators living near campus. While no level 3 sex offenders live on University property, several live in adjacent neighborhoods.

Their convictions include possession of child pornography and penetration of minors aged 3 to 15.

City officials balance the safety of residents and ensure the offender’s re-entry into a community is successful. While some students said they felt uncomfortable with offenders in the area, they said accepting them into the community is important for the person’s recovery.

There are approximately 1,300 registered sexual predators in Minneapolis, 51 of whom are assigned the third risk level.

According to the Minneapolis city Web site, of the four degrees, those labeled level 3 sex offenders are the most likely to reoffend.

Community notification within a three-block radius and police registration is required when a level 3 offender relocates to a neighborhood.

Jon Hinchliff, community notification coordinator for Minneapolis, said he frequently extends those boundaries of notification so “we can accommodate as many people as possible.”

Leonard John Gillespie, 31, is one of the level 3 sex offenders living near campus in the Seward neighborhood, but he said he is not a threat to students.

Gillespie was released February 2005 after serving time on a conviction of engaging in sexual contact with two adult women and attempting penetration.

Gillespie said he had “taken responsibility” for his crimes, but that “my words won’t prove that, my actions will.”

His chaotic childhood and long-term substance addiction contributed to his criminal record, “but I’m not going to blame alcohol or drugs,” he said.

Gillespie has been sober for four years, and has a girlfriend. They plan to marry.

Life after re-entry can be difficult, Hinchliff said. Employers often require any previous felony charges to be disclosed before hiring someone.

Housing frequently is denied to applicants who are declared level 3 sex offenders, he said.

Hinchliff said additional mandates have been added this year, requiring level 3 sex offenders to meet face-to-face with officers three times a year to update photos and contact information.

Those offenders who claim to be homeless are required to verify their residential status weekly, Hinchliff said.

For the first three months after prison release, offenders are under an “intense supervised release,” which includes a mandatory GPS location monitor to be worn.

Offenders must register their current address with law enforcement. They also are subject to frequent visits from a parole supervisor.

Hinchliff said people should keep in mind “it’s much more preferable to have (offenders) working than not and wandering the streets.”

“A known location is a much easier location to check,” Hinchliff said.

Imen Jendoubi, a postsecondary student, said sex offenders near campus make her “uneasy.”

But she said the police are handling the situation well.

“If nothing has happened so far, it looks like the police are doing their jobs,” Jendoubi said.

Sgt. Erik Stenemann of the University Police Department said he is aware of sex offenders living near campus.

Since there are no level 3 sex offenders living on University property, it technically is not the responsibility of the University of Minnesota Police Department to enforce any violations, Stenemann said.

Still, University police work closely with the Minneapolis Police Sex Offenders Community Notification Unit to ensure offenders are in compliance with state mandates, he said.

Sophomore Jane Riley said she is “aware that those people are around.”

Riley said that predators are most likely to reoffend unless they are welcomed back into the community.