Locals, legislators continue to fight placement of sex offenders in group homes

September 21, 2018 06:40 PM

ALBANY - Plans to move a convicted sex offender into a Gansevoort group home have been delayed, but some are saying the fight isn't over yet.

Lots of people are still concerned about the placement of sex offenders in group homes across the state. Though the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities said they are legally obligated to do so.

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"We're very concerned for the safety of the disabled, period," disability rights advocate Michael Carey said.

Carey's son Jonathan died in a home run by the OPWDD 11 years ago.

Carey is working with local families and state legislators to stop the placement of registered sex offenders in group homes.

"New York State law says it's endangering the welfare of incompetent or physically disabled person to knowingly do something that's likely to be injurious," Carey said.

Carey cited research that found nearly 97 percent of sex abuse cases involving someone who is developmentally disabled go unreported.

"So in the OPWDD system there's approximately 1,300 sex assaults or rapes reported to them annually," Carey said.

OPWDD released a statement Friday:

"OPWDD only provides services for people with a diagnosed developmental disability as defined by state law, and is obligated under the law to provide needed services to those who qualify regardless of a person's clinical or forensic history."

But Carey has his doubts about those diagnoses.

"I've heard from a very reputable whistleblower -- a state worker, that state doctors are giving late diagnoses to be able to place sex offenders in these facilities," Carey said. "We think they are profiting off these individuals and they're also taking the beds from people that need those services."

The Washington County District Attorney, Washington County Sheriff and New York State Assemblymembers have written to Attorney General Barbara Underwood, the commissioner of OPWDD and Governor Cuomo, respectively. They're calling for separate group homes only for registered sex offenders with developmental disabilities, an adequate staffing model and a transition plan that includes outreach to local law enforcement.

Carey said The Jonathan Carey Foundation found a total of 25 sex offenders living in OPWDD housing in Washington, Franklin and Suffolk Counties. OPWDD said HIPAA laws protect a sex offender's diagnosed developmental disability.


Emily Burkhard

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