A woman in West Islip was alarmed recently after opening mail from school district officials who reported that a sex offender was living in the neighborhood.  The man had been living only a few doors down from her home for about two years, but because of a court order and bureaucratic barriers, her community wasn't allowed to know it until recently.  While the 47 year old man was convicted of second degree sodomy in 1994, his name and offense only became public recently since he was among thousands of offenders not placed on a public state list with other convicted sex abusers because of a court injunction barring the release of the names.  The injunction on the release of information on offenders who were convicted of crimes before Megan's Law went into effect on January 21, 1996, was lifted last summer.

Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law in Stony Brook, Long Island, said her agency has seen a spike in the number of sex offenders about whom it sends out alerts, since hearings in Nassau and Suffolk have begun and authorities are making notifications on offenders who had been shielded.  For six years, many of these sex offenders have been going unnoticed in communities and now law enforcement is permitted to do these notifications, Ahearn said.  She said her e-mail alert service, available to anyone with an e-mail address, has grown from about 100 people to more than 1,000 in the past few weeks since she has been releasing new information about the sex offenders who have been shielded since 1998.   

(New York)