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Sex offender meeting set for Thursday

ROBERT THOMAS BACA, a Level 3 sex offender, is being released from prison again, and has listed DL as his destination.

Level 3 sex offender Robert Thomas Baca is getting out of prison again and has again listed Detroit Lakes as his home destination.

The Detroit Lakes Police Department will be hosting a community notification meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Detroit Lakes City Council Chambers at 1025 Roosevelt Ave.

The meeting is open to the public, and will include a presentation by the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Local law enforcement and a representative from the Becker County Attorney's Office will be on hand to answer questions.

Baca, 44, lists his planned residence as being on Summit Avenue, but an exact address was included in the fact sheet released by the Detroit Lakes Police Department.

Baca will be released from prison on June 21.

Baca caused a stir in Becker County in late 2008 when he first announced his intention to move to the Detroit Lakes area after getting out of prison.

He served an 111-month term for raping a woman at an apartment house in Detroit Lakes in 1996. The victim did not know him. He gained compliance through force and threats to kill her, according to the police department fact sheet.

He gained access to the woman, who managed the apartment building, by asking for assistance.

Baca was the subject of a community notification meeting in Detroit Lakes Nov. 17, 2008, but he didn't stay in town for long.

He left Detroit Lakes for St. Paul on Nov. 19. Detroit Lakes police watched him board a bus and leave, but he never checked in with St. Paul police as required.

He failed to check in with any police department, and on Dec. 12 he was charged in Becker County District Court with failing to register, a felony.

He was supposed to check in with police weekly wherever he was living.

A warrant was issued in Becker County and in January, 2009, he was arrested without incident in California by the U.S. Marshal's Service, which had been actively seeking him.

He was sentenced July 23, 2009, in Becker County District Court for felony violation of the predatory offender registration law.

District Judge Lisa Borgen sentenced him to 26 months in prison, with credit for 196 days served in jail. He paid a $50 fine and court fees from prison earnings.

The police department stresses that Baca is not wanted at this time and has served his sentence.

"This notification is not intended to increase fear in the community," it states. "Law enforcement believes that an informed public is a safer public."

Level 3 sex offenders in Minnesota are deemed most likely to re-offend, based on previous criminal behavior and other factors.

The fact sheet points out that "convicted sexual and predatory offenders have always been released to live in our communities. It was not until the passage of the Registration Act that law enforcement had an ability to track the movement of these offenders after their initial release.

"With the passage of the Community Notification Act, law enforcement may now share information about many of these offenders with the public.

"Abuse of this information to threaten, harass or intimidate a registered offender is unacceptable and such acts could be charged as a crime.

"Such abuses could potentially end the ability of law enforcement to provide these notifications. If community notification ends, the only person who wins is the offender. Many of these offenders derive their power from the opportunity that secrecy provides."