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Convicted sex offender lived in small ND town 15 years without registering

Michael McClary

A convicted sex offender facing five new counts of gross sexual imposition against girls younger than 15 in Petersburg, N.D., lived in the small town for years without being registered as a sex offender.

Michael Mills McClary, who is 47 or 48, was charged last month with five counts of gross sexual imposition for sexual contact with three girls, ages 14, 13 and seven at the time of the alleged offenses.

Convicted of sexual assault in July 1997 in Sasketchewan, he served nearly four years in prison there before being deported to the U.S. in early 2001.

But it wasn't until allegations came to light last year in Petersburg that authorities here discovered he never had registered as a sex offender in North Dakota. He was added to the state's sex offender list Feb. 25, state authorities say.

McClary remains in jail in Devils Lake awaiting a hearing later this month on the new charges. Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke said concern from citizens has prompted him to schedule a public forum for Tuesday night in Petersburg.

Four of the counts -- three Class A felony charges and one Class AA felony charge -- involve two of the victims and allege incidents that happened last year in Petersburg.

The fifth count involves a third girl McClary allegedly had sexual contact with in 2004 or 2005 when she was seven years old. That charge is a Class B felony because the statute was less strict in 2004 and 2005.

Some of the charges allege the incidents happened in McClary's home.

McClary is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on the five counts May 20 in state district court in Lakota, N.D.

The maximum penalty for a Class AA felony is life in prison.

McClary was arrested April 19 in a Grand Forks motel, where he was living because Sheriff Janke told him during the investigation it would be better if he relocated. But Janke's investigation started last year and led to McClary being registered in the state as a sex offender.

McClary was convicted of sexual assault in Saskatchewan provincial district court in Canada July 17, 1997, and served 45 months in prison there before being deported to the United States, according to Janke.

McClary apparently is originally from Nebraska, and perhaps lived in Minnesota for a short time before moving to Petersburg, Janke said.

When McClary was deported from Canada in 2001, there was no federal or North Dakota law requiring that he be placed on the state's sex offender registry automatically, said Jonathan Byers, an assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal and regulatory division of the state's attorney general's office.

Until the allegations came forward last year, Janke said, he had no reason to know McClary was a convicted sex offender.

Before 2006, there was no state or federal law requiring a sex offender convicted in and deported from, say, Canada, to get registered stateside as a sex offender, Byers said.

"The first act of Congress that actually required people from another country to have to register was the Adam Walsh Act, which was passed in 2006," Byers said. "We followed up in the very next legislative session, in 2007, we changed the statutes to require" the registration of sex offenders convicted in Canada.

By 2007, McClary had been living and working in Petersburg for about four years, Janke said.

Until last year's allegations, McClary was never suspected before of such crimes in the small town.

The only other charges on his record in North Dakota are a speeding and seat belt violation the same date last June in Nelson County.

But news of the new charges has led people to ask Sheriff Janke whether their children may have been victimized by McClary, Janke said Sunday.

McClary was a certified nursing assistant and worked in nursing homes in Lakota and McVille, N.D., Janke said.

McClary recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, with debts of nearly $77,000 and assets of about $53,000, according to court records.

He remains in jail in Devils Lake under $200,000 bond.

Once Janke's investigation revealed McClary's past, he contacted Grand Forks police and and in late February, McClary was added to the state's sex offender registry, Janke said.

Janke said news of McClary's arrest had raised concern in the small town of Petersburg, population about 180, which is about 45 miles west of Grand Forks on U.S. Highway 2.

Janke has scheduled a public forum on McClary and the state's sex offender registry for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the community club in Petersburg.