Joining Senator Schumer to Further Restrict Sex Offenders' Access to Children
Posted on: Tuesday, June 15, 2010
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- When parents drop their kids off at a karate school, piano lesson or birthday party, the last thing they're thinking is that their child could be molested by a sex offender.
But a gaping loophole in federal law means that everyday, fun-filled events like birthday parties, taking music lessons, playing sports or visiting a carnival could put kids in the crosshairs of pedophiles.
That's because current laws don't restrict pedophiles from working with children in jobs that are not funded by the government.
"This should frighten every parent here on Staten Island and across the country," U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in South Beach yesterday.
Schumer is introducing legislation aimed at closing the loophole and further restricting sex offenders' access to children.
Schumer said current law allows convicted sex offenders to hold a host of jobs that bring them into close contact with children, including music and dance teachers; magicians and clowns; coaches and referees; arcade workers; carnival ride operators; sports, recreation and entertainment center workers; child-theme party store workers; private tutors, and children-museum employees.
"I think parents are not aware of this," Schumer said. "And they should be."
The hazards of the loophole hit close to home in 2008, when it was discovered that Islander William C. Ventro was officiating PSAL basketball games despite having been convicted of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in 1992. Ventro had worked more than 80 girls varsity and JV basketball games over six years.
More recently, a man who had been convicted of molesting an 11-year-old girl was found to be running a karate school in Queens.
"As we all know, there are predators among us," Schumer said. "We cannot let our guard down."
Schumer's legislation would amend current federal law to prevent convicted and registered sex offenders from accepting paid or volunteer employment positions which place them in direct and substantial contact with minors.
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 leaves sex offender employment decisions up to the states. Schumer's legislation would require states to prevent sex offenders from accepting any of these child-serving positions.
"The fact that these sex offenders are able to coach our children's teams, operate rides at fairs and teach them dance and music is beyond scary and we must take immediate action to stop it," Schumer said.
For now, Schumer said that parents can protect their children by checking the state's sex offender registry if they have suspicions about anyone their child comes into contact with.
"But if you go to an amusement park or someplace like that, it's awfully hard," Schumer said. "The law's really what's necessary."
Appearing with Schumer, Michael Polenberg, vice president of government affairs for the Safe Horizon advocacy group, called child molestation "a heinous crime."
"We're fortunate to have allies like Senator Schumer," he said.
In a press release issued by Schumer's office, Assembly members Michael Cusick and Janele Hyer-Spencer applauded Schumer's effort.
"These criminals have a high rate of recidivism, and it is of paramount importance to limit their contact with children in our communities," said Cusick (D-Mid-Island).
"I'm grateful to Senator Schumer for his dedication on this issue throughout his career, and his support at this critical time," said Ms. Hyer-Spencer (D-East Shore/Brooklyn).
The legislation is set to be introduced at the end of the week.
by Tom Wrobleski
"Working to Keep Molesters at Bay on Staten Island"
See original article at www.silive.com