HOW A CLUSTER GREW SO LARGE (Low rents, willing landlords and politics play roles)
On the shaded streets of Coram and Gordon Heights, 39 convicted sex offenders live within a half-square-mile area. Fifteen reside on one block alone, and 11 properties house multiple offenders. Of the 39 offenders, the state designates 17 as Level 3, the most dangerous classification and the category law enforcement regards as most likely to commit new crimes. One sodomized three boys younger than 8. Another abused two girls, 4 and 6. The remaining offenders are Level 2 and were convicted of such crimes as the rape of a 14 year old girl and aggravated sexual abuse of a 2 year old girl. In all, 31 of the 39 offenders had victims aged 16 or younger.
KEEPING TABS ON OFFENDERS
Anyone on parole or probation or who has been imprisoned for a sex offense must by law register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services. In New York State, a court classifies sex offenders by the risk that they will commit another offense. The court also determines whether an offender gets an added designation as a sexual predator, violent offender or predicate offender.
Suffolk Police Chief of Detectives Kenneth Rau, who runs the department's sex offender unit, said his seven-person staff regularly checks offenders to make sure they comply with state registry guidelines, for example, that they live at the address they gave to law enforcement. Some 96 percent of offenders are in compliance.
Parents for Megan's Law, an advocacy group that works to prevent childhood sexual abuse, recently joined with Faith Baptist Church in Coram to map out schools, public parks and day care centers in the area to find houses covered by the new residency law.
On Long Island, there are 452 register sex offenders in Nassau and 825 registered sex offenders in Suffolk. The New York State Division of Parole currently supervises 72 Suffolk offenders, while the county's Department of Probation monitors 216. The other 537 registered offenders are not monitored by probation or parole officials.
LEVEL 1 - Low risk of repeat offense. Those with no additional designation are registered for 20 years. Those who do have a designation are registered for life.
LEVEL 2 - Moderate risk of repeat offense. All Level 2 offenders, regardless of whether they have a designation, must register for life.
LEVEL 3 - High risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety. All Level 3 offenders, regardless of whether they have a designation, must register for life.
FINDING INFORMATION ON OFFENDERS
There are 1,277 registered sex offenders on Long Island. Residents can now learn the addresses of Level 2 and Level 3 offenders by phone or internet.
The New York State Sex Offender Registry provides a statewide list of convicted Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders and their addresses. Prior to June, only names and zip codes for Level 2 offenders were available.
The public can find out if some is on the registry by calling 800-262-3257 and providing the name of the offender and one of the following: an exact address, a complete date of birth, a driver's license number of a Social Security number.
The public also can access the registry on its Web site, http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us/nsor/index.htm. Once there, click on the Search Level 3 Subdirectory link. After certifying that he or she has read the disclaimer, the user can search for Level 2 and Level 3 offenders by name, county or zip code.