2008-02-08 / Front Page

Sexual Predators Live Legally Near Schools

No State, Local Restrictions On Residency
By Howard Schwach

West end parents are up in arms that level two sexual offender Frederick Werbell, 67, has moved into the adult home at 209 Beach 125 Street in Rockaway Park, just 2/10 of a mile from St. Francis de Sales School and its playground, which draws hundreds of local kids during warm weather.

One of the registered sex offenders who lives nearby a school, resides at the Belle Harbor Manor on the corner of Beach 125 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, only 2/10 of a mile from the St. Francis de Sales school and its playground, a magnet for kids during the summer months. One of the registered sex offenders who lives nearby a school, resides at the Belle Harbor Manor on the corner of Beach 125 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, only 2/10 of a mile from the St. Francis de Sales school and its playground, a magnet for kids during the summer months. A number of those parents, all of whom asked to remain anonymous because they fear retribution against their children, contacted The Wave.

"This convicted rapist lives too close to a school. Our kids play in the schoolyard, they walk home past that building. We're afraid," was a typical comment from the parents.

In fact, records from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) show that Werbell was convicted in 1995 of two rapes, one involving a 39- year-old and the other a 24-year-old woman.

His probation ended in September of 2001. And, because of that, the law says that he can live wherever he wants, whether it be next door to a school or 20 miles away.

"There is no state law, no residency requirement for sexual offenders," Janine Kava, a spokesperson for the DCJS, told The Wave this week. "Several counties and cities have their own regulations, but there is no state law."

She added that convicted sexual offenders are supervised while they are on parole, and their parole may well set residency requirements, but they end at the same time that parole ends.

City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, who represents a portion of Rockaway, recently introduced legislation in the council that would prohibit level three sexual offenders, the most high-risk offenders, from living within 1,000 feet of a school or park. But that legislation is still progressing through the council.

"The public, particularly young children, need the protection of additional space between prior sex offenders living in their communities and schools and parks, or wherever community members congregate," Addabbo said.

Congressman Anthony Weiner, who has been active in proposing laws that would keep sexual offenders from children, recently issued a report that showed that of the 428 convicted sexual offenders who registered addresses in Queens, 173, or 40 percent, live within two blocks of a school.

A check of the DCJS's website shows that there are nearly 20 registered level 2 and level 3 sexual offenders who live within 1,000 feet of local schools.

For example, Freddie Keitt, a level three sexual offender, lives at 145 Beach 8 Street, just a short distance from PS 197 in Far Rockaway. He was convicted of attempted rape in 2000 and his probation ended in 2004.

Another level 3 offender is Joann Tulko, who lived at 315 Beach 9 Street, on the same block as the school. She was convicted in 1986 of rape and sodomy involving a five-year-old female and several pre-teen boys.

Edward Darnley, who lives at 1014 Neilson Street, right down the block from Middle School 53 and the Peninsula Preparatory Academy, was convicted in 1988 of raping a 17-yearold girl.

There are two level 3 offenders who live within blocks of PS 105 in Arverne.

Bernis Esaterling, 53, lives just three blocks from PS 105, as does Morpheus Griffith, 37.

Three registered sexual offenders live within blocks of PS 42 in Arverne.

Jamal Wingate, 49, was convicted of first degree sexual assault in 1997. A level 3 offender, he lives on Beach 63 Street, three short blocks from the school.

Two level 2 offenders live nearby. Matthew Brown, 48, was convicted in 1981 on charges of attempted rape and sodomy. He lives on Beach 67 Street. Carl Baley, 39, was convicted in 1993 on charges of attempted sexual abuse.

Parochial schools are not immune from nearby convicted sexual offenders.

Rahim Sutton, convicted of raping a thirteen-year-old girl in 1995, lives in the Hammel Houses, a block away from the St. Rose of Lima School.

Gerald Algozer, 60, who lives on Beach 115 Street, only a few short blocks from Stella Maris High School, was convicted in 1997 for sexual abuse of a 17-year-old girl.

Kenneth McCormick, 42, who lives on Beach 113 Street, not far from both Stella Maris and PS 225, was convicted in 1997 of attempted sodomy of both a 10-year-old and a 16-year-old.

"I thought that there was a state law that a sexual predator could not live within 1,000 feet of a school," one parent said. When told that there was no such law, she said, "That's chilling. There should be a law that keeps these people away from our kids."

In New York City, local police precincts are responsible for keeping track of sexual offenders on the registry and notifying schools when there is an offender living in the schools' neighborhood. Schools are then responsible for notifying parents, but there is no legal requirement that they do so.

Those interested in tracking local registered sexual offenders can do so at www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us. Sexual offenders can be tracked by name or by zip code.

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