Junior Karigan Wright disabled her GoFundMe campaign for three local homeless men after learning all are registered as level-three sex offenders in Massachusetts.
Karigan raised almost $3,000 for the men to secure them winter housing. However, after WFXT-TV reporter Evan White interviewed Wright regarding the fundraiser, White called Wright later in the day after completing a background check on the men and finding them on the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board.
“I was just silent for a minute, then it hit me, and I just started crying,” Wright said in an interview. “I was with my boyfriend and he overheard what happened and we both just sat there for a little bit in shock and completely devastated.”
One of the men, identified by White and independently confirmed by The Beacon as Robert Dresser, previously only provided his nickname—Smiley—to The Beacon. Dresser has been convicted of 12 counts of sexual offenses including rape and sexual misconduct dating back to 1992 and 1994.
Peter Travers and Robert Luz, the two other men the campaign aimed to help, are also registered, level-three sex offenders. Travers has been convicted of four counts of sexual misconduct and Luz with three counts of rape and assault.
Wright said she did not know the sex offender status of the men when creating the GoFundMe campaign.
“I think I was more shocked than anyone else to find out what he had done,” Wright said. “I obviously didn’t know anything about it and have since cut off all ties from him.”
Wright said she has already refunded all the money from the fundraiser and those who donated can expect their contribution to be returned in the near future.
White learned Dresser’s full name while interviewing him regarding the fundraiser. Wright said he never disclosed his full name to her.
“I never asked for his last name,” Wright said. “I didn’t want to invade his privacy. It certainly never crossed my mind that he was hiding something so terrible.”
Dresser told Wright details of his life before homelessness, but nothing regarding his status as a sex offender or how he became homeless. He declined to speak to a Beacon reporter at the time of the original story.
“He mentioned a ton about his life,” Wright said. “I think that’s part of the reason why this hit. He talked a lot about his past and things he wasn’t proud of and how he hurt his family members and how he hurt people … He said he had served jail time, but he said it in a way that sounded like he was serving jail time for drug abuse or getting into fights with people, just stuff like that.”
Despite the outcome of this fundraiser, Wright encourages others who wish to help people not to stray from that goal.
“I want to say that I hope this doesn’t discourage people from helping people in the future,” Wright said. “I have definitely learned to be more cautious and be aware of who I am helping, but I hope that people don’t get completely discouraged and decide to never help anyone again because you don’t know who they could be.”