CHILD VISITATION PACT REACHED (Girl’s father, a convicted sex offender, accepts compromise)

Francisco S. Sanchez Jr, a 28-year-old convicted rapist from Oswego, withdrew his request for unsupervised visits to his 6 year old daughter after agreeing to a compromise with the child's mother.  This Oswego County Family Court case may shape a new state law governing sex offenders' child visitation rights.  In the proposed agreement, Sanchez would visit with Baby S from 4 to 7 pm every Monday, from 2 to 6 pm every other Saturday, and 4 to 7 pm on Christmas Day at the home of his mother, Nancy Denny.  His mother would have to be present at all times.  He agreed to the compromise with Baby S's mother, 25-year-old Tina Sterio Sawyer, who never married Sanchez and has full custody of the girl.  Sanchez was charged with felony counts of first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy in January 1995 after Oswego city police said he attacked a 14-year-old girl.  His daughter was 9 months old at the time of his arrest.  He was held in Oswego County jail from August 15, 1995 to January 5, 1996 and in state prison from January 5, 1996 to December 12, 1997 when he received a conditional release to parole.  Tina told her story to the Long Island based Parents for Megan's Law organization in May and her case has since gained national attention.  Laura Ahearn, organization founder and a New York City civil rights lawyer, David Fish, appeared with her in court.  Tina has collected nearly 2,000 signatures in support of a proposed state law that would change the Family Court process of dealing with sex offenders who seek visitation rights to their children.  Instead of the burden to prove Sanchez should be supervised during visits being put on Tina, the burden should instead be placed on Sanchez, said Ahearn.  You (petitioner) would have to show the court that you are not a risk to the child's safety, she said. Ahearn said her group has asked state Senator James Wright (R-Watertown) and Assemblywoman Frances Sullivan (R-Fulton), to co-sponsor the bill and they have agreed.

(Oswego, New York)