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Harwood reacts to sex offender moving to town -- School to lock doors during day, build fence around playground

Adam Anderson

HARWOOD, N.D. - The wife of convicted sex offender Adam N. Anderson told Harwood residents she'll answer any questions they have - at any time.

Hatte Anderson was among the 50 or so residents at Monday night's offender notification meeting.

"We are not troublemakers. If you have questions, just ask," she said. "We are not here to make any trouble."

Hatte and Adam Anderson moved to Harwood from Fargo recently, and the couple have a daughter together. She said her two children from a previous marriage will be moving in with them after the school year ends.

Hatte Anderson told the crowd Adam was unable to attend the meeting because he works nights in Fargo.

Anderson was convicted in 2007 of corruption of a minor and delivery of alcohol to a minor. Anderson was 25 at the time of the incident, in which he bought alcohol for a 16-year-old girl and two boys. The girl - who was from Wyoming and in town visiting family - was incoherent, and Anderson had sex with her. He later dropped her off on a Fargo street. He was not related to her and did not have a previous relationship with her.

Anderson was designated level III, or high risk, after failing to complete the treatment his probation officer recommended.

Jerry Barnum, principal of Horace and Harwood elementary schools, said the community needs to be vigilant in policing its streets.

"People forget Joseph Duncan lived in this community," Barnum said. Duncan is a convicted sex offender and serial killer who once lived in Fargo.

"I don't know this guy. I'm not saying he is a Joseph Duncan," Barnum said. "I am saying you have a reason to be concerned. This is a wake-up call. We go day to day with these people in our streets."

Barnum said steps were being taken to protect the Harwood school from all predatory offenders. All doors at the Harwood school will remain locked during the day, and anyone wishing to enter will need to ring a bell for administration. A 6-foot high fence will also be added around the south and east sides of the playground.

Barnum said it is important for the community to be the eyes and ears for each other.

"People lose vigilance," Barnum said. "They don't recognize that in a moment's breath, those that you prize the most can be taken away."

Hatte Anderson said Adam Anderson will not be picking up or dropping off any of the three children at school and he will not have contact with his daughter on school grounds.

Cass County Sgt. Gail Wischmann said the sheriff's office keeps a watchful eye on sex offenders throughout the county, and will do the same with Anderson.

There are currently 242 registered sex offenders in Cass County, four of which are considered high risk.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530