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Chapter 980 Committee to meet as locations for violent sex offender explored in Washington Co.

February 11, 2023 – Washington Co., WI – Washington County Sheriff Martin Schulteis and the Chapter 980 Committee is reviewing locations in the southern portion of Washington County as placement of violent sex offender Eric J. Dahl continues.

On Wednesday, February 8, 2023, the county board voted to permanently postpone Ordinance 8, which meant the county would not move forward with a zoning change and plans to pave over a wetland on CTH E and CTH K in the Town of Erin so a trailer could be place at the intersection to potentially house a violent sex offender.


While that motion was cheered by Town of Erin neighbors in attendance, it did not completely eliminate the issue of finding a place in Washington County for Dahl to live.

Schulteis explained the law behind the placement and the struggles experienced by all counties as sex offenders are released into local communities.

“Under Wisconsin Chapter 980, a civil commitment procedure exists, and is primarily intended, to provide treatment to the offender and protect the public. The process occurs when a circuit court judge declares someone a sexually violent person and he/she is placed into a treatment facility. When a judge decides a person declared to be sexually violent meets the criteria for release, the person must be placed into his/her home county.  This original domicile provision is in state law and mandates that the person be returned to their home county.”

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Schulteis said his department initially evaluated two dozen properties. “Today, that is probably closer to 50 properties we’ve been looking at over the past 18 months or so,” he said.

“Every time we start the door-to-door operations, our intent is to ascertain if any kids have primary residency within the immediate border of the property. Then we expand that out about 50 feet to make sure there aren’t any churches, parks, or daycares in a home. So that’s what we do during that door-to-door canvass and we’re very open with people on why we’re doing it.”

Schulteis mentioned a couple of school districts they’ve had conversations with, however the search for a location is still being explored.

“This is a problem that’s not going away for counties all over the state,” said Schulteis. “I do know counties all over the state are struggling with these placements.”

The issue is not unique to Washington County; a high-profile case involving “Halloween Killer” Gerald Turner made headlines three years ago in Fond du Lac County. Turner was convicted in 1974 of assaulting and killing 9-year-old Lisa Ann French on Halloween night in 1973. An article from May 2020 in the Fond du Lac Reporter details the difficulties behind finding a place for Turner to live when he was released from prison.

Click HERE to read the article about “Halloween Killer” Gerald Turner’s release

In the past, according to Schulteis, the State of Wisconsin was responsible for finding locations for sex offenders who had served their time. In 2016 Schulteis said the law shifting the responsibility to the county.

“The counties are now given 120 to find placement and we’re way over; it’s literally been like 18 months that we’ve been trying to find placement, and nobody wants them in their neighborhood. I completely get that, but the reality is the county itself has to find some placement for our own offenders somewhere in our county. That’s where the struggle takes place.”

Click HERE to read about Eric J. Dahl who has been deemed a

‘violent sex offender’

The Chapter 980 Committee next meets Friday, February 17, 2023 at 10 a.m. The agenda is posted below.  The meeting is open to the public.

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