Concern about local sex offender grows

School officials are warning parents and staff about a local sex offender living across the street from Hoglan Elementary School.

Public outcry has grown since the Times-Republican reported two weeks ago that Stewart D. Smith, a man on the National Sex Offender Registry, isn’t required to register in Iowa.

Because Smith, 51, was convicted in Minnesota, living close to the school at 2306 S. Third Ave., isn’t against the law.

In August he pleaded guilty to multiple counts of child stealing and enticing a child in Tama County. He received a suspended 10-year sentence and was placed on probation.

Jason Staker, director of communications for the Marshalltown Community School District, said the district is responding to concerns from parents.

“I think a lot of people are concerned, naturally, because he is not registered as an Iowa sex offender,” Staker said. “So living in an area near a school, while it doesn’t make sense to us, unfortunately the way the law is that’s his right to do so.”

Staff at the school received emails with his photo and information about his history, he said. If Smith is seen on school property, police will be alerted, Staker said.

Meanwhile, local resident and mother Linda Propp is taking a proactive approach, not only for her child, but also for her neighborhood.

“I walk my child into her classroom every morning,” Propp said.

Propp said Smith frequents her apartment complex, which prompted her to distribute flyers with his photo and criminal record.

“We distributed them on every single car in our apartment complex and set them under every door,” Propp said.

Still, she said she worries about the children.

“We are just putting his photo out there and making sure parents are aware to protect their children,” Propp said.

Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, said earlier this month he will introduce legislation to prevent people like Smith from skirting the law.

“I just find that disturbing that he lives here and he can prey on kids and we wouldn’t even know it,” Fisher said.

Fisher said convicted sex offenders moving to Iowa should be required to report to authorities where they are living.