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Plans to move sex offender into group home delayed

September 03, 2018 06:37 PM

GANSEVOORT - Plans to move a two time convicted sex offender into a group home in Gansevoort have been delayed.

James Becker, 33, won't be moving in on Tuesday, but the concerned mother who reached out to NewsChannel 13 last week said the fight isn't over yet.

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"It's got to stop,” Sharon Ashe said. “It has got to stop now, we cannot keep turning our backs on this."

Late Sunday night Ashe learned Becker won't be moving into a group home for people with developmental disabilities on Route 50.

Ashe's 47-year-old son Scott lives in that home. She said Scott functions at about an 8-year-old level. He lives in the home with three other 40 to 50-year-old men who have also been diagnosed with a developmental disability.

Ashe said the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, the state agency that runs the facility, delayed the move over the weekend.

Ashe said it's a step in the right direction, but it's not a solution.

"A postponement is not the answer,” she said. “There are other homes within New York State under OMRDD [OPWDD] they're called Forensic homes. They are filled with other sex offenders. That is where this man belongs."

Becker spent three years in jail after he pleaded guilty to having sex with two underage girls.

Since Ashe spoke out last week, a number of people have stepped in to try and stop the move.

Activist Michael Carey wrote an email to the Justice Center, which read in part:

"This act is illegal and in direct violation of NYS Penal Law 260.25, Endangering the welfare of incompetent and physically disabled people."

New York State Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner said she's concerned by the lack of official notice the group home gave resident's families.

In addition to formal notification, Woerner believes there should be meetings scheduled to ensure transparency.

"I would like to see OPWDD have a process so it's not just sending them a letter sending, the parents a letter but sitting down with the parents and talking through what their staffing plan is and what their concerns might be,” Woerner said.

In a statement the Department of Corrections and Community Services said Becker “would be under close supervision in Saratoga County.”

OPWDD released a statement about their placement process last week, it said in part,

"OPWDD provides supports for people with developmental disabilities in the most appropriate environment based upon their needs, we do not deny needed services based on incidents that occurred in an individual's past."

Woerner said the situation presents significant challenges for everyone involved.

“I understand that this is a difficult situation but we need to balance the rights of the residence of the group home with the rights of the individual being released from prison and find a solution that doesn't put anybody in danger,” she said.

In the meantime, Ashe said she'll continue to fight.

"I have to keep going on this until we know that this is permanently gone around New York State,” Ashe said.

A representative from OPWDD said privacy laws protect Becker's information in this case. The representative said OPWDD only works with people who have a documented developmental disability.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this developing story.

Credits

Emily Burkhard

Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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