Newsday/Andrew Smith

Richard Russillo, a 59 year old Ridge man, has been indicted on charges of sexually abusingneighborhood children during the past few years. Russillo, of 31 Tarkhill Trail, is accused ofsodomizing one boy who was younger than 13 years old between February and April 2003. Because ofthe boy's age, he is charged with first-degree sodomy, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 yearsin prison. He was arrested in June 2003 and had been free on a bail bond of $180,000. He is alsoaccused of sexually abusing a girl four times and a third child once during the summer of 2000. Heis charged with sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child in those incidents. Russillopleaded guilty in 1979 to first-degree sexual abuse and was sentenced to 5 years' probation. Inpart because of that record, Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law, wantedhim held on high bail for the recent indictment. Ahearn said Russillo was too dangerous to be free.His bail was raised to $200,000 bond by Judge Martin Kerins and he was due in court again October30.

A Suffolk jury last night acquitted Russillo of sodomizing the boy, but convicted him offondling the boy two other times. The verdict was a disappointment for people on both sides of thecase. On the one hand he will now have to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law for thefirst time. On the other, he remained free on bail and faces a maximum of just two years in jailfor the misdemeanor convictions.

Ahearn said she was disappointed in the sodomy acquittal. However, he's now a registered sexoffender, she said. Anywhere he goes, the community will know he's a sex offender.

Russillo, who welcomed neighborhood children to his home, was sent to jail for 2 years yesterdayfor molesting the one boy. Russillo's attorney said his client will appeal, and he filed for a stayof the sentence until the appeal could be heard. State Supreme Court Justice Arthur Pitts deniedthe stay, however.

(New York)