THE MOLESTER NEXT DOOR (In Mosaic of Ongoing Investigations, Restricted Areas and Notification Gaps, Surety Remains Elusive)sitesdefaultMegans_projjsp]
Long Island Press/Timothy Bolger
A North Bellmore high school student searched his block on an online sex offender map last monthand found something that unnerved the whole neighborhood: A Level 2 sex offender who served oneyear in Nassau County jail for sexually abusing a 10 year old girl was not only living near him,but within 1,000 feet of a school, in violation of county law. Less than a week later, at acommunity meeting in Merrick, Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey got an earful froma room full of angry parents who accused police of failing to notify them and thereby leaving kidsat risk. The commissioner did his best to assure the crowd that officers are aware of allregistered sex offenders in their patrol area and that the errant offender would be forced toleave. It is not residency restriction that motivates a sex offender to violate the law, itis their perception that law enforcement is not dedicated to ensuring compliance, says LauraAhearn, executive director of Stony Brook-based Parents for Megan's Law and the Crime VictimsCenter, a group that advocates for sex crime victims and other victims of violent crime and lobbiesfor tougher laws governing sex offenders. Although the burden is on the sex offender to tellauthorities where they live, Suffolk has a compliance rate of between 92 and 98 percent and Nassauis comparable, Ahearn says. She adds that sex offenders are mistaken if they think police areslacking, since Nassau and Suffolk counties have some of the strictest laws in New YorkState. Some towns and villages have their own additional residency restrictions as well, andstill more are currently up for debate. As for more immediate notifications, Ahearn suggeststhat the public sign up for e-mail alerts through her website, www.parentsformeganslaw.org, where users can register to be notified if asex offender moves into their neighborhood by entering their zip code. Users can entermultiple zip codes as well, so they can be notified about sex offenders who move into nearbyneighboring school districts that they otherwise wouldn't be alerted to, Ahearn says.