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Parents will ask convict to move

Published Oct. 1, 2005

Many parents don't want convicted child molester Robert Hatcher in their midst _ certainly not living across the street from the school their children attend.

So they say they will do the sensible thing. They won't threaten him. They won't intimidate him. They won't yell at him.

They will simply ask him to go away.

Some parents attending a PTA meeting at Hudson Elementary School on Thursday night said they will make that request at a peaceful protest next week outside Hatcher's Hudson Avenue home.

Hatcher, 81, who lives across the street from the school, was released from prison last week after serving four years of a 10-year term. After his release, he moved back to his family's longtime home.

"When somebody does the crime, they should do the time," said Robin Lane, a parent organizing the protest. "All I want to do is ask the gentleman to move to where he'd be more accepted, perhaps to something like a retirement home. . . . We have to ask him nicely, politely to leave the neighborhood."

She asked parents to gather between 9 and 10 a.m. Tuesday in front of Hatcher's house in hopes that he will get their message.

Hatcher, interviewed after the meeting, said it would be difficult for him to leave a home that he has spent time in since he was 12 years old _ before the school was even built.

"I'm going to take things one day at a time," he said. "I grew up here and it's home to me. It would be hard for me to just go and leave. If they want to buy me out, the house is for sale."

His asking price: $150,000.

Hatcher said he is no threat but nonetheless understands parents' concerns.

"I hold no malice toward them," he said. "I'd feel the way they do if I didn't know the guy. If they just came over and let me talk to them, I'd be their friend. I'm not the kind of person they think I am."

Not everyone attending the PTA meeting thought that asking Hatcher to move was a good idea, one of his neighbors least of all.

"I know he did wrong. But he paid his dues," said neighbor Peggy Brady. "He's 81 years old. I don't think he's any threat. . . . He's no villain."

Some parents said they feared a protest would scare their children, some of whom may already be having difficulty understanding what is happening around them.

And others worried that a protest with peaceful intentions could nonetheless turn ugly.

"These so-called demonstrations do bring out the worst in people," said Toni Moulton, whose daughter attends the school. As TV news cameras circled her, Moulton said protesters should instead call Hatcher on the telephone.

Before the meeting, parents said they were angry about Hatcher's release.

"He's not 50 feet from school property," said Jody McNutt, whose 6-year-old daughter is enrolled in the school. "It's like putting cocaine in front of an addict and expecting him not to touch it. He should be put away in an old folks home somewhere where he is not surrounded by children."

She said many of the 900 children who walk or ride their bicycles to school each day will be a dangerous temptation to Hatcher.

In a plea bargain, Hatcher pleaded no contest to 12 counts of sexual battery in 1993 for raping three girls as many as 100 times each when they were as young as 4.

The stepfather of the victims said his family accepted the plea bargain to spare their children, who are now in their 20s, the pain of testifying.

_ Staff writer Amy Ellis contributed to this report.