A Pervert Goes to School

A registered sex offender was allowed to volunteer at St. Mel’s School in Flushing exposes a critical flaw in the state Sex Offender Registration Act. Joseph Denice was allowed to volunteer as a religious instructor at the Catholic school. He was dismissed when it was learned Denice is a registered sex offender who only recently got out of jail where he served a six-month sentence for repeatedly abusing a 12-year-old boy.

The school has a policy of doing background checks on all perspective employees and volunteers. Denice slipped through the cracks because he had already passed a background check before his arrest.

Denice’s sordid background was discovered when he use Facebook to contact a minor. This is against school policy and a violation of SORA regulations. Convicted sex offenders are not allowed to have contact with a minor.

This man should be dragged back to court and he should be looking at prison time. The school needs to review its screening policy to make sure no pervert gets access to its children.

This should serve as a wake-up call for the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. Under the SORA, the public can easily get access to detailed information about registered sex offenders including the offender’s name, photograph, address, birth date and the type of crime committed. Anyone who goes to the DCJS website can plug in a ZIP code and get a list of registered sex offenders living within that ZIP code.

Unfortunately, the names of Level 1 offenders, considered to be lowest risk, cannot be listed. Schools have access to the names of Level 1 offenders. By changing the law the public could get the same access.

Law enforcement should be allowed to regularly check the computers of all registered sex offenders. Their names and e-mail addresses should be provided to every legitimate site perverts might abuse.

We hope Denice did not abuse another child and that DCJS will tighten the reins on all sex offenders.

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