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The perverts next door

You may already know that there are 183 Level 3 registered sexual offenders living in Queens, but there may be many more perverts that you can’t look up.
One Councilman is hoping to change this. Peter Vallone Jr. is currently working with Parents for Megan’s Law to have an alert email sent out to parents in Queens when a moderate or high risk sex offender moves into the neighborhood - a feature already available on Long Island.
“There is no reason why parents in the five boroughs should not be able to access the same information as those in Nassau and Suffolk Counties,” said Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan’s Law.
Ahearn started the group in 1998 after working as a social worker with sexual abuse victims. She began collecting information about sexual offenders and studying Megan’s Law. “Megan’s law gives you an opportunity to be proactive and to take precautions,” Ahearn said.
In addition, a bill now before the State Assembly would make information about all registered sex offenders available online (not just Level 3 offenders).
Sex offenders who have a high risk of committing more offenses and those who pose a threat to public safety are given a Level 3 designation, according to the state’s criminal justice website. Level 3 sex offenders are often those who have committed several offenses, have committed violent offenses, and attacked children.
According to the state’s criminal justice website, in 2004, there were 459 Level 1, 364 Level 2, and 32 as yet to be classified sex offenders living in Queens County. If their names or addresses are known, information about sex offenders can be obtained by a phone call to the state registry at a charge of 50 cents for up to five searches.
But even for parents with some information in hand, searches for sex offenders may come up empty handed because not all offenders’ registrations are available to the public. According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice website, most sex offenders who were in jail or on probation in January of 1996, or who were assigned a risk level before 2000, are not registered for community notification because of a lawsuit filed in 1996. “The injunction will soon be lifted on a case-by-case basis for those designated risk level 2 or level 3, after each registrant has had an opportunity for a hearing in his or her case,” states the website.
With 36 Level 3 sex offenders listed, Jamaica has the highest population of “high risk” offenders - not counting East Elmhurst where there is a prison — in the borough, a Queens Courier audit of the New York State sex offender registry found. They are spread across Jamaica’s eleven zip codes as follows: 3 in 11413; 1 in 11420; 1 in 11422; 2 in 11427; 1 in 11429; 1 in 11431; 4 in 11432; 7 in 11433; 6 in 11434, 8 in 11435 and 2 in 11436. The majority of those have victimized children under 12 years old.
“For any parent of a school child, learning that a sex offender resides in their community, that terrifies them and rightly so,” said Bill Jefferson, a Laurelton community member who is involved in several southeast Queens organizations. Although Jefferson’s two children are already grown, he said he could sympathize with parents today.
“Criminals are mobile. These people today have access to cars and vans. That designation doesn’t give any ‘safe’ neighborhood protection from sex offenders,” Jefferson said.
Second on the list below Jamaica is Far Rockaway, where 17 reside, third is St. Albans where 10 live and fourth is Flushing where nine live. In Long Island City, eight Level 3 sex offenders are registered, but two of these men reside at the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence, a shelter for homeless male veterans.
Sources within the city’s criminal justice department speculated that economics force convicted sex offenders to live where housing costs are the lowest - currently in southeast Queens.
As listed in the state registry, there are seven “high risk offenders” in Queens Village (where there is a psychiatric ward), five in Richmond Hill and Rosedale; four in Corona, Hollis, Ridgewood, and Ozone Park; three in Cambria Heights, Glendale, and Woodside; and two in Astoria, Laurelton, Middle Village, Rego Park, and Springfield Gardens.
On the state registry, information about “high risk” sex offenders, including name, address, mug shot, aliases, employment and details of their crimes, are all available, but residents have to provide personal information to complete a search.
In Bayside, College Point, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights, Jamaica Estates, Maspeth, Rockaway Park, and Woodhaven, one Level 3 sex offender is listed in each community.
With new legislation signed into law by Gov. George Pataki in January, all of the 183 Queens County sex offenders, including one who resides on Roosevelt Island, will now have to register for life. Only certain Level 1 offenders can petition the criminal justice department for removal from the list after 20 years.
The state will also be voting on several other key pieces of legislation regarding sex offenders within the coming month. “Right now New York State does not have one of the more pro-active Megan’s laws … we are hoping to see some of the laws changing,” Ahearn said.
For information about only Level 3 sex offenders in your area, visit the New York State Department of Justice website at www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us/nsor. To find out whether Level 1-3 sex offenders are living in your area, call the New York State Sex Offenders Registry information line (1-900-288-3838) at a charge of 50 cents per call, which allows you up to five searches.
Various watchdog websites also allow neighborhood searches for registered sex offenders. At www.familywatchdog.us, parents can pull up a map of their neighborhoods that will show the schools in the areas as well as offenders’ homes and workplaces. The website has addresses, photos and descriptions of the sexual offenses each of the registrants has committed.

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