Richland County mother of three, Jamie Shannon, said she was relieved after a judge ordered a violent repeat sex offender be relocated Tuesday afternoon at the Richland County Courthouse.
After nearly two hours of court hearings, the judge ultimately decided it was not in the community’s best interest to have 64-year-old Richard Sugden live in a home next to Shannon and her three kids in a remote part of town.
“I almost think its setting up Mr. Sugden for failure by having him so close to an adult woman,” the judge said. “When I look back at Mr. Sugden’s history, I cannot order that this placement continue.”
64-year-old Richard Sugden spent decades in prison for a 1976 crime of rape and sexual perversion and a 1997 crime of first-degree sexual assault and child abduction. According to records, Sugden abducted a 17-year-old who was out walking, dragged her under a bridge and raped her at knife point.
Sugden also had a history of violent offenses while in prison including holding staff members hostage with a home-made knife and attempting to escape, but failing after the stolen car he and two other inmates tried to escape in rolled over.
Sugden has been living in northern Wisconsin since he was released from prison in June 2019 and has not re-offended since. He was approved to live in Richland County by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Division of Community Corrections.
The Richland County Sheriff’s Office put out a public notice stating that Sugden’s residency in Richland Center warranted a public notice given the nature of his crimes and choosing random victims. In the sex offender bulletin, Sheriff James Bindl wrote: “This individual’s history places him in a classification level that reflects the potential to re-offend.”
Sugden is required to wear a GPS tracking device until he dies and is on supervision that requires hi to have an approved person monitor him any time he leaves his home.
State law requires that sexual offenders live no closer than 1,500 feet from a school or public building. However, counties can choose to enforce their own set of restrictions on a case by case basis.
Sugden stated in court that his crimes were committed nearly 40 years ago and he was ready to comply with the law and start his new life in the home. However, the judge told Sugden she understood his complaint but would not let him live in that house. The judge ordered the Department of Corrections to work with Sugden to find him a new place to live in Richland County in the next 60 days.
Shannon shared hugs and tears with dozens in the courtroom after the judge made her final decision.
“I’m just really happy the way it turned out,” Shannon said. “I’m a single mom and now I don’t have to worry.”
Shannon said when her kids first learned that Sugden would be moving into the home less than 180 feet away, “They wanted to move right that second.”
Shannon works a night shift and said her kids are often left home alone. Shannon said she was worried something could happen when she wasn’t there or that something could happen to her while she is home alone during the day.
“I should not have to watch them 24-7,” Shannon said. “My oldest hasn’t really slept since this all started. He’s the man of the house and wants to protect us all.”
Sugden’s attorney Robert Peterson said that finding Sugden a new home is frustrating because, “There is a real problem in Richland County with them being able to find appropriate residence. While I’m disappointed with the results of the hearing I’m encouraged by the fact that she’s going to have Richland County make sure they locate an appropriate residence in this county for Mr. Sugden so he can continue his community treatment.”