Saturday, March 8, 2008

CT - Sex offender challenges probation officer in court

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Sex offenders are among the least popular people in America today.

Probation officers work for judges.

So for a man who has been convicted of sex offenses, taking on a probation officer in court is a big uphill battle.

But that is what Matthew Glasser, who has lived in South Windsor and Tolland in recent months, started to do on Friday, as he embarked on a rare hearing to contest a probation violation charge in Hartford Superior Court.

There is no right to a jury trial in probation violation cases, so the decision will be up to Judge Edward J. Mullarkey, who is presiding.

Glasser, 32, a former music teacher at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, got a seven-year suspended sentence and five years' probation in October. He had pleaded no contest to witness tampering and five counts of fourth-degree sexual assault.

Glasser originally had been charged with eight counts of second-degree sexual assault based on allegations that he repeatedly had sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old student at Northwest Catholic. Although 16 is the age of consent for intercourse in Connecticut, the law prohibits sex between students and teachers in elementary or secondary schools.

Just four months after he was sentenced, Glasser was back in court last month facing a probation violation charge.

In a 17-page arrest warrant affidavit, which the judge said was the longest he had ever seen in such a case, Probation Officer Lisa Mandeville-McGeough detailed allegations that Glasser had violated his probation conditions. She charged that he had failed to live in an approved location, failed to keep her informed of his whereabouts, and failed to cancel e-mail and other Internet communication accounts.

When Glasser started on probation in October, he was living with his parents at 154 Graham Road in South Windsor. But Mandeville-McGeough rejected that location on grounds that it was a quarter mile from Wapping Elementary School and half a mile from South Windsor High School.

Under cross examination Friday by Glasser's lawyer, former Chief State's Attorney John J. Kelly, Mandeville-McGeough acknowledged that there is "no specific distance" that a sex offender has to live away from schools.

"It's based on a lot of different factors," she said. "It's based on the overall risk to the community."

After more than a month of insistence from Mandeville-McGeough that he move out of his parents' house, Glasser reported to her that he had spent a night at a shelter for the homeless in Hartford. But she said it wasn't the shelter he had told her he would be staying at - and that he failed to inform her of his whereabouts for the next five days.

Over time, Glasser sought probation office approval to move to several addresses, but all were ultimately denied, either because Mandeville-McGeough or other probation officers concluded that they were too close to areas frequented by children or because Glasser failed to provide all the information the probation office needed.

Mandeville-McGeough testified that she told Glasser he could live at 860 Main St. in East Hartford, the Church Corners Inn rooming house.

Eventually, in December, the probation office permitted Glasser to move in with his best friend's father at 26 Ann Drive in Tolland. But the office soon revoked that approval after getting an e-mail from a neighborhood resident who reported that 14 children were living within six houses on either side of the Ann Drive house.

It was clear from Mandeville-McGeough's testimony Friday and from her arrest-warrant affidavit that Glasser has clashed repeatedly with her throughout his few months on probation. He started out on the wrong foot by telling her at their first meeting that he didn't believe he was a sex offender.

She also quoted him as saying, "My family has taken the legislative stance that I did not commit the offense that I was arrested for and I did nothing illegal."

The hearing is to continue Friday, March 14, in Hartford Superior Court.

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