From the Manchester Union-Leader:
MANCHESTER – A small crowd of angry neighbors formed outside a registered sex offender's Ashland Street home early Saturday, taunting her as a "molester" and "skinner" before one of them tossed a burning scarecrow on her front stoop, residents and court records allege.
"They were yelling out 'Skinner, skinner, skinner!' They were yelling out 'War!'," said Barbara Smith, who shares the third floor 84 Ashland St. apartment with registered sex offender, Gloria J. Huot, 39. "Skinner" is prison slang for rapist.
Then one in the group of about 15 people lit a handmade scarecrow and carried the flaming figure across the street, throwing it on her wooden porch steps, said Smith, 43, who was home with her two sons, ages nine and 16, and a toddler she was babysitting when the incident occurred shortly after 1 a.m.
"He ran back across the street, and they were all out there laughing," Smith continued. The man returned to pull the burning scarecrow off the steps and began stomping it, she said. Another neighbor came over with a bucket of water and the two doused the flames, according to Smith and court records. The charred remains of the scarecrow were scattered over the street and sidewalk by the time police and firefighters arrived, court records show.
Paul Hafford, 29, who lives across the street at 81 Ashland St., is accused of lighting the scarecrow and throwing it on the front porch steps of the three-family apartment building. Hafford denied it, though he admitted being there when it happened, police said in an affidavit.
Hafford, who police said has a criminal history that includes four prior assault convictions, was arraigned on a felony reckless conduct charge in Manchester District Court yesterday. He was ordered held on $2,500 bail pending an Aug. 23 probable cause hearing.
Saturday's episode was an escalation of already raw relations between Huot and her neighbors since she and Smith moved into the apartment last month, according to the two women and their downstairs neighbors, Henry Capelle, 23, and Thomas Lapierre, 20. Neighbors have taunted Huot as a "skinner" when she leaves her house and told Smith the women should move, they said.
"It's scary because I don't know what they are going to do next," said Huot, who was taking care of her 77-year-old mother and was not at home at the time.
"I don't bother nobody. I don't look at nobody... I know people don't like me because of my crime. So I stay inside as much as possible," said Huot, who was convicted of aggravated felonious sexual assault in 1997. The state corrections department closed her case after she served seven years in prison and completed her parole last year, corrections officials said.
The corrections department has no authority over anyone who is no longer under its supervision, including setting conditions on whom they can live with and where, said Capt. Chris Kench.