WHEN SEX OFFENDER IS TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
About a month after Nancy Treccagnoli, a new tenant who moved into the other half of a two family home in Hauppauge, she learned that the man who shares the yard, pool and driveway is a convicted Level Three sex offender. A neighbor had found his picture on the state's registry of convicted sex offenders. Level Three offenders are the most serious of the three classifications imposed by a judge. Treccagnoli found the ages of the victims involved in the offender's first degree sexual abuse convictions were close to those of her own children who are 14 and 12. Treccagnoli has few options under the law. The offender has the right to live where he chooses, although local law enforcement officials are supposed to use their discretion in making sure offenders are not close to so-called vulnerable populations, such as school children. She has been living in the two family home for four years and does not want to move. She has sought help from school and law enforcement authorities but found she had little recourse. Barbara Bernstein, executive director of the Nassau chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said, I can understand her anxiety but on the other hand, he has to live someplace. The offender was sentenced in March 1999 to 6 months in the Suffolk County jail and 5 years' probation, which will expire in March. The sentencing judge put no restrictions on where he could live. The man's probation officer had asked him to look elsewhere for housing and he has indicated that he will look, said Anne Martin, the deputy director of the Suffolk Probation Department. Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law, said, He can't be in a residence with children but because it's a two-family house, it is considered two separate residences, which I think is outrageous. Thomas Grant, spokesman for the state Division of Parole, said those who serve state prison time for sex crimes are aided in their search for housing by state parole staff and it's not easy. They're evaluated on a case-by-case basis but we have to be very alert, he said. For example, in an apartment building, you wouldn't want them using the elevators with children. When asked about the Hauppauge situation, he said, That's really problematic...If that was a parole situation, we would have to take a very close look.