Providence

Convicted child rapist recently released now a registered sex offender in Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- A convicted child rapist recently released from prison is now living in the capital city, Eyewitness News has learned.

In the late 1980's, Richard Gardner was convicted of sexually assaulting boys in Warwick, R.I., and Hingham, Mass. He was released from prison in 2016 but was quickly incarcerated again after he visited a public library in Quincy, Mass., which violated the terms of his probation.

Gardner was released from prison again on Thursday before checking in with a probation office in Rhode Island.

Providence Police Major David Lapatin tells Eyewitness News that Gardner registered as a sex offender in the city of Providence on Friday.

Initially, it was unknown where Gardner would be living in Rhode Island because his offenses pre-date Megan's Law, a measure that led to the federal government requiring that all states establish sex offender registries, meaning there's no requirement to inform the community.

Gardner's release from prison has opened up old wounds for his victims.

Cheryl Ellsworth said her son was sexually assaulted by Gardner when he was 9 years old.

"It's just something that doesn't go away," Ellsworth explained.

Ellsworth said back in the '80s, her son Michael woke her up in the middle of the night to tell her that a man had entered his bedroom through his window with knife, taking him from his home and assaulting him.

"I think all of the blood drained out of me," Ellsworth recalled.

Michael, who was battling an illness at the time, died a few years after the attack. Ellsworth said he fought the illness for a long time, but the assault weighed him down.

"Michael is in heaven now... you know, he's happy, and he's no longer sick," Ellsworth said. "He's been made whole again, but all of us left behind still miss him very much."

Ellsworth said upon learning of Gardner's release, she's left uneasy at the fact he is back in Rhode Island.

"It's scary knowing he's back in the state," Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth said everyone, especially those with children, should be on high alert.

"Keep your eyes open, keep your doors and windows locked," Ellsworth encouraged.

While neighbors may not be notified that Gardner is living nearby, Ellsworth said she's confident people will soon learn who he really is.

"I'll go wherever he is, I'll go door to door, and tell them whose living in their neighborhood," Ellsworth said.

The Rhode Island Department of Corrections said Gardner will be under close supervision. Gardner will also need permission if he ever wants to leave the state.


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