POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – A Pound Ridge mother is the one who notified the local police that a Level 3 sex offender had moved into town after she learned he was talking with her daughter online, Police Chief David Ryan said Saturday.
Ryan held an informational meeting for parents at the town house Saturday to address rumors about what exactly happened when Edward Campbell, who was arrested and charged with violating his probation, moved into town. Campbell is in Putnam County jail and could face up to seven years in prison, Ryan said.
More than 350 teenage girls had friended him on various Facebook and other networking sites, Ryan said. Many of the teenagers attend Bedford Central, The Harvey School in Katonah and Mahopac Central School District.
Campbell did not rape anyone while in town for a few weeks, but Ryan said he has no doubt that he would have if no one alerted the police to his presence.
“His intent here was very specific, I think," he said. "It was very focused. And my guess is he would have been gone in a month or two without us knowing if not for a very astute parent."
Campbell, 22, was arrested in an apartment rented by a colleague, who Ryan said let him stay there. The landlord didn’t know he was there. He told Carmel Police he moved to Putnam Valley, and didn't tell Pound Ridge police he moved to Pound Ridge.
"So the collection of what he did do, and didn’t do but lied about are all crimes," Ryan said.
He got a job as a bus boy at the newly opened Inn at Pound Ridge, which didn’t do a background check. Ryan said private companies aren’t required to perform background checks, but that the Inn did 78 in 36 hours after they learned that Campbell is a sex offender.
Campbell is not allowed to be within a half-of-a-mile of an elementary school and daycare, both of which are within that range from the inn. He also had cell phones and a computer, both of which are prohibited under the conditions of his release and probation, stemming from a 2012 conviction for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He used them to talk to teenage girls on Facebook and other social networking sites, Ryan said.
“This is not a guy that just met a girl on Facebook, or friended her. This is a predator that manipulated victims to lure them,” Ryan said. “I have parents asking me why we’re picking on this kid here. Because he’s a sexual predator, that’s what they do.”
Ryan said he claims to be a rap star.
“He’s not a rap star. He’s a guy trying to create this groupie environment to manipulate girls to draw them in,” he said.
Victoria Cooper has an 8-year-old son at Pound Ridge Elementary School who is starting to “toy with computers.” She said she had some of her questions answered, like the fact that the police arrested Campbell within two hours of finding out he moved to town, and had him in jail back in Putnam within five hours.
“I didn’t realize it happened so quickly,” she said. “But, I’d be lying to you if I said I felt comfortable. I don’t. I don’t feel comfortable. I’m still a little jarred. But, I’m going to be as vigilant as I can.”
Ryan suggested people subscribe to the town’s email notifications to be alerted to such events, as well as NY-Alert, a state web portal for emergency notifications. He also suggested parents talk to their kids about online safety, and Google the names of their Facebook friends, along with the word “sex offender."
“I encourage you to do that if you’re kids are using any social networking sites,” he said. “You’ll probably find out very quickly that they are communicating with people they shouldn’t be.”