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Sex offender’s return prompts warnings
A former Washington man convicted of first-degree kidnapping and attempted rape in Baker City nearly eight years ago has completed his prison sentence, and as Oregon law requires, has returned to the county where his crimes were committed.
Jason Andrew Wright, 37, is easily identified by his unusually short arms, the result of a birth defect.
Wright returned to Baker County on Jan. 16, according to his parole officer, Becky Monahan of the Baker County Parole and Probation Department. Wright will remain on post-prison supervision for 81 months. His maximum custody date, unless other sanctions are imposed is Oct. 15, 2015, Monahan said.
Lt. Will Benson, parole and probation supervisor, said Thursday that because Wright has not been designated a predatory sex offender, the parole and probate department has not issued a community notification of his presence in the community.
Wright was arrested Tuesday on a charge of violating requirements of his post-prison supervision. Benson said Wright had committed no new crimes, but he was jailed for a “technical violation” of supervision. The state Parole Board will decide what sanctions should be imposed on Wright based on information forwarded from Baker County, Benson said. The maximum punishment would be 90 days in jail and another 90 days added to his post-prison supervision term.
Benson said Wright will be required to remain in Baker County for at least six months unless arrangements can be made to transfer him to another jurisdiction where he could find more services, such as sex offender treatment and employment opportunities.
Because Wright is a registered sex offender, he is not allowed to frequent places where minors are likely to congregate, Benson said.
His Baker County victim was not a child, however.
In July 2000, Wright took a young woman to the El Dorado Motel in July 2000 and held her there against her will for about four hours while harassing her and demanding sex. The woman eventually was able to escape and called police.
Wright was arrested in July 2001 and convicted in a September 2001 trial.
District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said after the trial that Wright had been traveling freeways throughout the Northwest preying on young girls and women. He picked up his Baker County victim after she passed out in a downtown alley following a night of heavy drinking.
Shirtcliff said Friday that he has had several calls from community residents concerned about Wright’s return to Baker City, which Shirtcliff knew was coming.
“I was concerned about his release,” Shirtcliff said. “Now we just have to monitor him. He has to follow the rules of parole and probation.”
Wright is living at the county’s transitional housing next door to the Baker County Jail on K Street and travels on foot in the community.
Benson said Wright has been advised to change his routes so that he isn’t routinely walking near schools, but unless he stops on the grounds, he is not violating his parole.
Shannin Zednik, school resource officer, said she advised the high school to alert students about Wright’s presence in the community and to encourage girls to use common sense if they are approached by him, especially if he asks for a ride.
“We’re trying to make sure that the female population understands that there is a choice to be made,” she said.
Benson encourages anyone with questions or concerns to call Parole and Probation at 523-8217.
He cautioned community residents against focusing on “high-profile” offenders such as Wright, who is easily identified as he walks through Baker City.
Instead, he encouraged parents to talk to their children and to know what they’re doing and who they’re spending time with.
“Snatch-and-grabbers are scary,” Benson said. “They’re dangerous.”
But they also constitute about 5 percent of the nation’s sex offenders who get most of the publicity, he said.
“In 10 years of supervising sex offenders, I can count on one hand the hide-in-the-bushes, snatch-and-grab rapists (I’ve supervised),” Benson said.
He noted that most sex offenders find their victims among family members or close friends.
“95 percent are well-known to their victims or their victims’ families,” Benson said.
“It’s scary and he’s going to stand out,” he said of Wright, “but he knows he’s on supervision.
“This might be a good time to relay that the other 95 percent (of sex offenders) aren’t this guy,” Benson said.