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OH- 2 helped Mansfield sex offender flee?

6-11-2009 Ohio:

MANSFIELD -- A 4-year-old Crestline girl's father and uncle might have placed her in danger.

Authorities believe Haylee Donathan could be with her mother, Candace Watson, 24, and Robbi Potter, 27, a sex offender who recently fled from the Volunteers of America halfway house at 290 N. Main St. in Mansfield.

Crestline police Chief Tim McClaran said Watson and Potter are a couple.

A national alert has been issued as authorities from across the country are involved in a search for the pair and the child.

Richland County sheriff's Capt. Eric Bosko said authorities still are trying to piece together the relationship between Potter and Watson. Bosko, who would not speculate on their whereabouts, declined to comment on a report the couple made an ATM transaction in Colorado.

James Donathan, 24; Cyle Watson, 21; and Nicole Kirkpatrick, 20, were arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of helping Potter abscond from the VOA. They were charged with complicity to escape.

Richland County Sheriff Steve Sheldon said authorities also have an arrest warrant for a fourth person in connection with the escape.

Potter was released from prison April 16 to the custody of the VOA. He absconded May 28.

In December 2006, Potter was sentenced to three years in prison for two counts of sexual battery. He received probation for one count of interference with custody.

The sexual battery included two victims, one of whom Potter took across state lines, resulting in the interference with custody charge. The previous victims were 10 and 11, police said.

Potter is a Tier III sex offender, the most serious designation. Upon his release from prison, he must register with the county sheriff wherever he lives every 90 days for life.

Police issued two warrants for probation violations for Potter.

In addition to the state case, Potter is on federal probation for a bank robbery. Authorities could not issue an Amber Alert because Watson willingly went with Potter. The case is not considered an abduction.

In a national news report, Mary Watson, the mother of Cyle and Candace and the grandmother of Haylee, said Cyle called her from Richland County Jail on Tuesday night to say he had been arrested. In August 2006, Cyle was sentenced to three years in prison for rape. He also was given five years probation for attempted rape.

Watson was released from prison, but violated probation. He was sentenced April 27 to continued probation with additional sanctions, including a stint at the VOA.

According to Mary Watson, Cyle said he and Potter recently were outside the VOA for recreation. She said Cyle was talking to Donathan, who lives in the adjacent apartment building. Kirkpatrick is his girlfriend. Mary Watson said Donathan called her daughter to help Potter find a place to stay.

Potter absconded from the VOA between 6 and 7 a.m.

"You can exit," Bosko said of the treatment facility. "It's secure. You can't just walk in."

VOA officials notified authorities immediately when they discovered Potter was missing.

"Volunteers of America has worked for nearly two decades in the Mansfield area to provide rehabilitation services to formerly incarcerated individuals," said Megan Ericson, communications manager of the Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio. "The safety of those in the communities we serve has and continues to be our utmost concern." ..Source.. by MARK CAUDILL • News Journal

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