Grim faces by the dozens packed Columbus City Hall Wednesday evening for a meeting nobody wanted to attend.
Officials from the Anoka County Sheriff's Office and both the state and county departments of corrections were there to address concerns of this small community just west of Forest Lake.
There were many.
Christopher Michael Bradshaw, who has a lifelong habit of sexually fancying little boys, was moving into the neighborhood.
The sheriff’s informational session focused on all things relating to the 50-year-old level 3 sex offender, whose criminal history dates back more than 30 years. He's been convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim younger than 13, lewd and lascivious conduct, and most recently two felonies for interfering with the privacy of a minor.
The latest case involved Bradshaw bringing two boys to the Andover YMCA and filming them in various states of undress. Investigators reportedly unearthed hundreds of images of child pornography in his home. Their investigation also uncovered that Bradshaw visited 11 different Y facilities throughout the metro area in the months leading up to his arrest.
But a loophole in state law, which considers filming kids undress a lesser crime than child porn, allowed Bradshaw to escape serious time. He served only one year. His two-year probation expires June 1, 2017.
Kendall Melchior lives a 10-minute walk from Bradshaw's new address. The house sits on a few acres. Most of the nearby homes have huge lots. Her husband Tim was one of the estimated 100 residents who crowded into city hall.
"People are angry. People are scared," she tells City Pages. "They're frustrated not just about the fact he's moving into the neighborhood, but why the hell is he out? What happened? He's had so many offenses and he's out walking around."
Residents' frustration, according to Kendall Melchior, was compounded by officials, who spent a disproportionate amount of time explaining what makes Bradshaw a level 3 sex offender.
"That's not what people wanted to hear," she says. "And there weren't really any good answers for that."
What the Melchiors and their neighbors do know is they're screwed. Unless they want to grab pitchforks and make Bradshaw's life hell, there's nothing much they can do.
"You can be vigilant. As a neighborhood, we can get to know each other better, but there's nothing really proactive we can do. You can't do anything that might impact him," Melchior says.
A YMCA in Forest Lake is slated to open in August. It's being marketed heavily to Columbus residents. Bradshaw's arrest in 2013 came mere months after his probation from a previous sex crime ended. While he'll remain on the sex offender registry, Bradshaw's current probation is over in about 13 months.
City Pages' attempts to contact Bradshaw yesterday were unsuccessful.