PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence residents will meet later this week after hearing convicted child rapist Richard Gardner is moving into their Washington Park neighborhood, a city official confirmed for Eyewitness News.
“My wife told me and I Googled it,” said Jesse Andrade, who now lives on the same street as Gardner.
“It’s 141 feet from my door to the front door of that house. It’s a little too close for comfort.”
Gardner was convicted of sexually assaulting children in Warwick and Hingham, Mass in the late 80’s.
He was released from prison in 2016 but was soon locked up again after he violated the terms of his probation by visiting a public library in Quincy, Mass.
“He already had his chance once,” Andrade said. “He got locked up right away. I don’t need his chance to be on this street.”
Officials said Gardner was released from prison again last Thursday and checked in with a probation office in Rhode Island.
Neighbors told Eyewitness News they’re concerned about the safety of their children. Andrade said he’s afraid to have his grandchildren visit.
Councilman Luis Aponte represents the area and said he was shocked to hear that Gardner had chosen Washington Park to be his new home.
“I thought to myself, ‘Why here?'” he said. “How many communities did this individual travel through on his way here? And as I thought about it, the questions that rushed to my head I imagined would be many of the same questions my constituents would have.”
The Washington Park meeting is planned for Wednesday between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Washington Park Community Center on Jillson Street.
Since Gardner’s case pre-dates Megan’s Law, the exact address of his apartment has not been released to the public, but since Gardner registered as a sex-offender with Providence police, authorities know where he is living.
Providence Police Major David Lapatin said Gardner registered as a sex offender Friday.
Gardner’s release from prison is especially difficult for his victims and their family members, including Cheryl Ellsworth.
She told Eyewitness News her son was sexually assaulted by Gardner when he was 9 years old.
“It’s just something that doesn’t go away,” Ellsworth said. “It’s scary knowing he’s back in the state.”
Ellsworth, whose son died a few years after the assault, said he woke her up in the middle of the night in the early 80s to tell her a man had entered his bedroom through his window with a knife, took him from the home and molested him.
“I think all of the blood drained out of me,” Ellsworth said. “Michael is in heaven now. He’s been made whole again, but all of us left behind, still miss him very much.”