A Level 3 sex offender living in Waltham who has been in the spotlight this week for allegedly approaching two elementary school students in Lexington said he has no interest in harming anyone.
William Lafauci, 57, is a Waltham native who had four sex offense convictions in the 1990s, including one for indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 years old and three for open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior.
But he insisted in an interview that people need not fear him.
"I donít go out on my bicycle in the morning thinking, ĎI gotta get a kid,íĒ Lafauci said in a phone interview today. "Do you know how many people are walking around with child rape charges and stuff? Why are they picking on me? I donít really grasp the situation. Itís not fair."
Lafauci's travels in Lexington and Waltham have caused some concern among parents and police.
The parent-teacher organization at an elementary school in Lexington recently warned parents about Lafauci in a letter and Waltham police say they are monitoring him because of an alleged practice of hanging around areas where children congregate. A Waltham ordinance limits where Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders can go and Lafauci is facing a court hearing for allegedly violating it, police say.
But Lafauci said that be believes his crimes were relatively minor and happened over a decade ago, and that he does not understand why residents and parents are so afraid of him.
Lafauci said he accidentally touched a 12-year-old in 1993 "for three seconds" when he was drunk and high, and regrets it every day.
Lafauci has been in the spotlight this week after Lexington's Bridge Elementary School's parent-teacher association sent home a letter to parents warning them of Lafauci's presence in town.
According to the letter, Lafauci allegedly approached two Bridge School students on Spring Street in Lexington while they were on their way to school before one of the student's mother caught up and ended the conversation.
Lafauci had also been sighted in Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and a recreational field in Lexington, according to the letter.
The letter also said that the school will be educating students about stranger safety, and urged parents to also talk to their kids about the subject.
Lafauci said he recalls the situation in question differently.
"I remember talking to a mother with two kids in push-strollers, but I was talking to the mother, not the kids," he said. "There's nothing on my mind about kids. I'm not a pedophile."
Lafauci said since he has done his time, he does not understand why he is still ostracized.
"Since when is having a conversation with somebody against the law?" he said. "Words are words, crimes are crimes, and I didnít commit a crime."
In Waltham, police officers have been monitoring Lafauci and Detective James Auld, the officer who works closest with him, said Lafauci "has been a person of concern."
"He invades personal space and is overly friendly. With his background and criminal history, thatís not a good combination," Auld said.
Since Lafauci is not on probation or parole, he has no legal restrictions, but officers still monitor him closely, Auld said.
"It's difficult to monitor him all the time, but we do the very best we can," Auld said. "The reason he's probably going into Lexington is because weíve been monitoring his activity so closely here."
Auld said that Waltham passed a city ordinance in 2008 that prohibits registered sex offenders like Lafauci from loitering within 300 feet of any playgrounds, parks, schools, or "places that would attract children."
Lafauci is due in Waltham District Court next month for his first violation of the ordinance, Auld said. The ordinance issues fines for the first two violations, and an arrest for any other subsequent violations.
However, Lafauci said that incident was a mistake. He said he pulled over into a Waltham park this summer after he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle, and in his quest to find a place to recover, the city ordinance was the furthest thing from his mind.
"When I was yelling for help, people took it the wrong way," he said.
Lafauci said he still does not understand why people actively report him just for being present somewhere.
"Iím not an angel, but these people see me and call the police - it's crazy," he said. "What am I supposed to do - stay in the house? That ainít happening."
Lexington Police Chief Mark Corr said Lafauci has been present in Lexington for years.
"I donít want to violate his civil rights, and I want to caution the public not to violate his civil rights," Corr said.
He said that he seeks to encourage residents to be calm, be informed, and make good choices.
"We try to encourage people to understand they should be taking precautions wherever they go, but not to become so fearful that it interferes with the quality of life," Corr said.
Lexington Superintendent Paul Ash said the school district has precautions set in place to ensure children's safety on school grounds.
Ash said teachers and staff are posted on playgrounds during recess, and that school doors remain locked throughout the day, requiring visitors to be buzzed in and wear a pass around the building.
"We believe we have very safe schools," Ash said. "We also have concerns if children walk home, but to the best of my knowledge, there has been no improper behavior by this or other such individuals in Lexington. But we are very interested in working with community officials on taking whatever precautions are appropriate."
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org