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Vermont town on edge over sex offender's release; case spotlights civil liberties vs. security

The hours are ticking down toward the scheduled release of a high-risk sex offender, and Vermont authorities are not only warning the public but cautioning that blue-eyed, blond-haired boys of 12 or 13 could be in particular peril.

Timothy J. Szad was planning to move in with his parents until they backed out because of threats. Now it's unclear what will happen when 53-year-old Szad leaves prison Friday after completing his sentence for aggravated sexual assault against a 13-year-old boy.

Officials say Szad's case points up the difficulties presented by a policy calling for broad public notification and the opposition that notification often brings.

Vermont has no "civil commitment" law that allows sex offenders who are considered a danger to the public to be kept locked up once they have completed their prison sentences.

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