PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With concerns, questions, and emotions still running high, residents of the Washington Park neighborhood in Providence met once again Wednesday night regarding a convicted child rapist living in their neighborhood.
Richard Gardner, who was previously convicted of sexually assaulting children in Warwick and Massachusetts in the late 1980’s, was released from prison back in October. Gardner now lives in the Washington Park neighborhood with his wife.
This is the third time residents have met since Gardner moved into the Providence neighborhood. Many have also expressed their frustrations by protesting outside of Gardner’s home periodically.
Megan Sanderson, who has lived in the neighborhood for about 15 years, said she feels defeated.
“Our kids are locked inside, our kids are scared, kids are sleeping with their parents,” Sanderson said. “I do understand the limitations of the law, and I do understand that his rights are in tact, and we don’t have a lot of leeway. It’s frustrating.”
Since Gardner moved in, Providence police have been keeping a close eye on him.
“He’s got a right to live there,” Public Safety Commissioner Steve Pare said. “And he can live there and come and go as he pleases. We can’t infringe on his rights either, but we’ll provide that security the best we can.”
Initially, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said he would approve overtime for a 24/7 police detail outside Gardner’s home, but Pare would not confirm if that police detail is still in place. He said there are still several safety measures in place to protect residents.
“I hope that we can stand together as a community,” Pare said. “That’s the only hope that I have.”
Pare said he now plans to have a discussion with the Department of Corrections and the Attorney General’s office in hopes of getting answers for concerned residents.