Convicted sex offenders can legally work as tutors, coaches and in other positions wherethey are close to children, according to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sunday he said he wouldpropose legislation to change that.
Schumer's legislation would make it illegal for registered sex offenders to work orvolunteer in positions that put them in direct and substantial contact with children.
It would also require business owners to confirm that employees or volunteers in these typesof positions are not registered sex offenders. Businesses not in compliance would be fined, Schumersaid, with escalating penalties for repeat offenders.
Schumer credited Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law and The CrimeVictims Center in Stony Brook, with the idea for the proposed law.
Ahearn said many parents mistakenly believe that such laws currently exist.
There's this assumption that the law is protecting them, but the reality is that it's not,she said.
Ahearn said businesses in New York can check whether an employee is a registered sexoffender by contacting the Division of Criminal Justice Services online or at 800-262-3257.
Her organization operates the federally funded Sex Offender Registration Tips, or SORTprogram, which investigates complaints about alleged violations by sex offenders. About half of thecases her office investigates are referred to authorities, Ahearn said.
In 2009, Ahearn said, her organization investigated the case of convicted sex offender andformer schoolteacher Bradley Dieffenbacher, of Levittown. Dieffenbacher, on probation for anearlier sex offense conviction, worked as a private tutor for a 15-year-old boy in Suffolk County.SORT program staff determined the job violated terms of his probation and they contactedauthorities, she said. Dieffenbacher was sent back to prison.
Ahearn said roughly 80 percent of registered sex offenders aren't serving parole orprobation, which means they are not barred from holding such positions, which they would be ifSchumer's legislation passes.
There's absolutely nothing law enforcement can do, she said. Her program notifies parentsand employers in such situations, she said.
(New York)