Molestation victim’s mother outraged as inmate appears to seek romance online

CRANSTON R.I. (WPRI) – The mother of a child molestation victim is demanding a change to state policy after an online profile – apparently created by the incarcerated sex offender – is on a website for prisoners seeking relationships.

Dana Waters was convicted of multiple counts of child molestation in 1998 and sentenced to 27 years behind bars at the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston. At the time, prosecutors said there were at least 11 victims, boys, ranging from 4 to 15 years old.

A smiling photo of him can be found on a website for inmates seeking companionship. The profile states he is seeking “friendship or relationship” with either men or women.

“To all those who have written me over the past year, thank you, even though I still have many to reply too,” it says in the profile. “I look forward to hearing from many more good-hearted souls. Waiting to find that one person out there for me.”

The profile claims he has received proposals from three women.

A spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RIDOC) said the profile is not illegal because they do not have a policy regarding social media.

“However, inmates at the RIDOC do not have access to the internet; therefore, any postings to such sites would have been created by a third party,” Susan Lamkins wrote in an email. “Unfortunately, it is very difficult to prove if an inmate has asked someone else to post on their behalf, and if the posts are not criminal there is nothing that can be done by our agency.”

A mother of one of Waters’ victims – who Eyewitness News is not identifying to protect the victim – said the website made her “physically ill.”

“I know and understand that inmates have rights,” she said. “My minor child also had rights not to be molested.”

‘Sick human being’

In 1997, Waters was arrested on charges he molested a Barrington boy he babysat. Soon other victims started coming forward.

“Dana Waters made himself available to the community as a camp counselor, as a nanny, as a big brother, as a Boy Scout assistant leader,” the mother said. “A number of them were special needs children, others were from single parent homes.”

She said Waters is a “sick human being.”

RI Dept. of Corrections inmate photo of Dana Waters
RI Dept. of Corrections inmate photo of Dana Waters

A year after his arrest, Waters, then 26, of East Providence, was sentenced to 27 years in prison after striking a deal with prosecutors.

But prison records show he is going to serve a lot less.

Waters has been able to amass 2,120 days off his sentence thanks to the state’s “good time” statute, and another 376 days for “industrial time,” which is usually a job inside the prison. In all, Waters’ prison time has been shaved down by nearly seven years, or 25 percent of his sentence.

In a statement, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin expressed outrage over the early release of Waters.

“This is the exact type of case that caused my office to make changes to the state’s so-called ‘Good Time’ law,” Kilmartin said. “It is frustrating to learn of another sexual predator who is released from prison early, despite the changes to the law.”

The 2012 changes to the good time law spearheaded by Kilmartin prevent those convicted of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping of a minor, first-degree sexual assault, and first and second-degree child molestation, from earning credits toward early release for good behavior.

While Waters’ convictions include first and second-degree child molestation, the changes to the good time law are not applied retroactively. In other words, only those convicted of those crimes in 2012 or later aren’t allowed to earn good time.

2,700 page views

According to a manager of the website where Waters’ profile is listed, inmates must fill out and sign an application before posting on their website.

In an email, he wrote the website “does not restrict any inmate from posting a profile on the website based on their crime.”

“Our terms of service restrict minors under the age of 18 from using our service,” he wrote. “Further, all messages are then vetted by our staff before being sent out to ensure that the message is not from a minor or the message does not contain anything the prison would consider to be contraband.”

He said the Dana Waters profile page was created in June 2014, and has been visited just over 2,700 times.

The profile states Waters is incarcerated for a “sex offense” but does not provide any further detail.

“I don’t know whether people that are accessing these sites … really understand what that violation is about,” the mother said. “I would like someone to propose changes to the laws of the legislation so we can protect our families and protect our children.”

Target 12 reviewed several websites geared toward connecting inmates with those outside prison walls. In all, the review found seven men at the ACI who have profiles on three different websites. Story continues below video.

One of them is Raymond Grundy, who is serving time for murdering his estranged girlfriend on Christmas Day in 2010. The victim’s twin nine-month-old daughters were in the East Providence apartment at the time of the murder.

The profile in Grundy’s name states, “I made a few mistakes in my life.”

“I’m hoping to gain a friendship or more,” Grundy wrote. “Take a chance, you’ll never know.”

Target 12 also found a profile in the name of Donovan Hall who is serving time for murder conspiracy after he and three others killed two men and a woman during a botched robbery at a Providence apartment in 2012.

Other profiles include bank robbery, robbery, assault and breaking and entering.

Parole Denied

Through a prison spokesperson, Waters denied a request to be interviewed.

Matt Degnan with the Rhode Island Parole Board said Waters was denied parole in 2008 and again in 2010. He also said Waters will have to register as a sex offender upon his release.

Waters is currently serving time at medium security at the ACI and has a good time release date of March 2017, but can continue to accrue good and industrial credit leading to a possible release within a year. Once free, he will be on probation for 33 years.

During his 1998 sentencing, Waters told the parents of victims that “God is my judge.”

“If you wake up every day holding a grudge, you’ll get nowhere,” he said.

Asked if she forgives Waters, the mother of one of his victims said, no.

“I really wanted to communicate the impact of one individual’s behavior on an entire family, decades later,” she said.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter: @TimWhiteRI

Darren Soens contributed to this report.

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