The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 4, 2013

Empty seats highlight sex offender meeting

A community notification meeting held at the Verizon Wireless Center Wednesday night had everything one of these meetings usually has.

The representative from the Department of Corrections was there to explain the law and how the offender ranking system works. Law enforcement was on hand to answer any questions citizens may have. Facts and figures were displayed large on giant video screens so anyone in attendance could see it all very clearly.

The community notification meeting was missing just one thing: the community.

About 15 people listened to the DOC's Mike Schommer conduct the meeting. But most of them were either police officers or affiliated with the justice system in some way. From the looks of it, two citizens attended the event, a far cry from previous meetings where the arrival of a level-three offender brings concerned — and often angry — folks who want to have their voices heard about a man they don't want living near them.

"It all depends on the community," the DOC's Mike Schommer said of the sparse turnout, "and how comfortable they are with the information."

In this case, the information involved a gentleman name Mal Pauliet Tharjiath.

According to public records, Tharjiath was arrested in September after he broke into an occupied apartment in the 1800 block of Monks Avenue. Women inside called 911 to report the burglary, and one of them, who knew Tharjiath, told police Tharjiath sexually touched her over her clothing. He was sentenced to a year in prison after admitting to assaulting a police officer during his arrest and assaulting a guard at the jail.

In March 2011 Tharjiath was arrested on the Bethany Lutheran College campus after he threatened to shoot someone. Police needed to use a stunning device to detain him after he tried to flee.

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