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Art show’s unwanted visitor

WINSTED — Organizers of a local art show were unhappily surprised last week when it was revealed that one of their artists was a convicted sex offender who had been hanging around with minors in town and snapping photos of some of them with his cell phone camera.Walter Lyle Cabral, 52, last reported to be living at 70 Franklin St., Room 3, Torrington, was apprehended by Winchester police after numerous witnesses said they recognized him as a convicted sex offender during the weekend of the annual Winsted Firemen’s Carnival. Cabral had been exhibiting artwork at a 68 Main St. gallery with other local artists and had reportedly seen in numerous locations in town photographing minors.Theresa Cannavo, who organized the art show the weekend of Aug. 19 to 21, said Cabral had been a participant in the art show and that he had come across as a helpful and talented artist.“I feel totally duped,” she said. “I didn’t notice anything wrong with him. He was so helpful. He was respectful and he seemed educated. He talked about his kids constantly and he brought beautiful pieces of art into the gallery.”It was only when Cannavo overheard someone discussing Cabral’s past and a potential connection to sex offenses that she grew concerned and searched for his name online.According to the state of Connecticut’s online sex offender registry, Cabral has been convicted of four separate sex offenses, all related to minors. All of the convictions occurred on May 11, 2007, and included criminal attempt to entice a minor, illegal possession of child pornography, promoting a minor in an obscene performance and criminal attempt to commit illegal sexual contact of a minor. Cabral spent three years in prison and was released on May 11, 2010, state records show.In recent weeks, Cabral had reportedly moved into a room at 68 Main St., Winsted, the same building that houses the Main Street gallery, and was working as a handyman in the building. While artists were organizing their August show, he befriended Cannavo in East End Park and offered to help with the art show.“He was right here in Winsted, on a corner, with kids walking by,” Cannavo said. “He took pictures of my daughter with his camera. There’s nothing wrong with that — unless you’re a convicted sex offender.”Cabral reportedly told authorities that he had moved to 68 Main St. in Winsted in early August but did not register the move on the state sex offender registry. Last week, he was charged with failing to attend required sex education classes, violating probation and promoting a minor in an obscene performance. He was held on $10,000 bond.State documents note that Cabral had been noncompliant with a requirement to verify his current address with officials. He was also required to keep in contact with a working cell phone, which he surrendered to police along with two laptop computers. Arresting officers noted the presence of photos of minors and of sexually explicit text messages on his phone.Asked what she thought she could have done to prevent Cabral from being in the local art show in the first place, Cannavo said she had seen no reason to demand background information from him. “I think that’s unrealistic,” she said. “I don’t think I would have ever caught on unless I heard someone say his name and ‘sex offender’ in the same sentence, then I started Googling it.”Ultimately, Cannavo said, she was angry that Cabral had gotten so close to her daughter and other minors in town. “I think you do have to talk to your kids about being wary of people who are really trying hard to get to know you quickly,” she said. “And keep your kids really close.”

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