Teen sex offender leaves Seabeck

Nicholas Stroeder, the 13-year-old sex offender living in Camp Union, was returned to a state juvenile rehabilitation facility Thursday, Jan. 31 after authorities discovered he violated his parole last month.

“We uncovered evidence earlier this week Stroeder committed a criminal offense Jan. 10 while on a visit to a doctor in Anacortes,” Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer said Thursday night.

Boyer said the incident was a “serious criminal offense that was not sexually related and didn’t result in harm to another person.”

According to a state Department of Social and Health Services press release issued Friday, Feb. 1, Stroeder made a “threatening gesture toward a long-time associate and member of his support team with a mechanical drawing pencil. ... Because the person didn’t feel threatened by the incident, it wasn’t immediately reported to law enforcement.”

The state Department of Social and Health Services placed Stroeder in a foster home on Cantu Lane Jan. 18 after a months-long search for a suitable facility.

“There were rumors flying around (Thursday) night that Nicholas was gone,” Cantu Lane resident Lesa McCabe said. “He can stay there forever as far as I’m concerned.”

Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department Detective Mike Rodrigue said he first learned of the incident Tuesday, Jan. 29, during a conference call with Catholic Community Services, DSHS and state juvenile rehabilitation officials.

“I’m not sure where it got goofed up,” Rodrigue said. “Apparently the woman Stroeder allegedly threatened mentioned it in passing but it wasn’t reported to law enforcement officials.”

The criminal investigation will be performed by the Anacortes Police Department. Rodrigue said prosecutors in Skagit County will decide whether to press charges.

Stroeder spent five months at Echo Glen Children’s Center in Snoqualmie for attempting to rape a Lynnwood woman in April 2001 during a group home outing to Alderwood Mall. He was released from the facility Dec. 31.

“He is here in custody and back in treatment,” Echo Glen associate superintendent Patty Berntsen confirmed Friday, Feb. 1. “This is typical when someone does something to break their parole contract.”

Stroeder’s parole agreement barred him from possessing lighting devices, drugs and alcohol, required him to undergo sex offender treatment and meet other undisclosed conditions.

Berntsen said juvenile sex offenders often are returned to the facility, because they are on parole for at least two years and must meet strict guidelines.

According to DSHS officials, Stroeder can remain at Echo Glen for a maximum of 30 days. Catholic Community Services will continue to oversee his placement when he is released.

“I see this as an opportunity to examine (how) to ensure the safety of Mr. Stroeder,” Boyer said, “and it will allow time to find suitable placement closer to his family on Whidbey Island.”

Catholic Community Services officials said Wednesday, Jan. 30, they were looking for a new location to place the teen.

According to CCS spokesperson Jackie O’Ryan, the incident occurred before Stroeder was placed in the organization’s care. CCS reported no incidents since assuming Stroeder’s care.

“Nicholas has been very stable with no incidents while in the foster home,” O’Ryan said.

She added that a return to Echo Glen could be beneficial to Stroeder.

“Regardless whether or not the guardian thought it was a threat at the time,” O’Ryan said, “the important thing is for Nicholas to know is there are consequences to inappropriate behavior even if it doesn’t constitute a crime.”

“We all feel so bad for this child,” McCabe said. “We’re angry because this isn’t the right place for him to be. His leaving is a victory, but not a total victory. We’ll continue to keep the pressure on so he isn’t brought back here.”

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