Pols call for more stringent penalties in wake of alleged assault

January 4, 2012 Heather Chin
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Now that charges have been filed against the man suspected ofabducting a 15-year-old boy from a Sunset Park subway station ataround 9:30 a.m. on Friday, December 23, and sodomizing him in BayRidge near Dahlgren Place and 92nd Street, local elected officialsare calling for some reassessment on how a Level 3 sex offendercould be allowed to live near children and strike again.

Steven Pappas, 50, was arraigned on New Year’s Eve in Brooklyncriminal court after being arrested three days earlier by officers fromthe Brooklyn Special Victims Unit and Sunset Park’s 72nd Precinctafter a brief car and foot chase that ended at 50th Street and FortHamilton Parkway. He had the police shield of an active dutyofficer in his possession when caught.

Pappas faces numerous charges of committing a criminal sex act,criminal abuse and criminal impersonation. These include chargesstemming from a February, 2009, incident regarding a 12-year-oldboy at the same 53rd Street subway station the latest victim wastaken from. Pappas is being held without bail and is due back incourt this week.

In statements to The New York Daily Newsinsisted that although he impersonated a policeofficer in order to flirt with the teenage boy, he didn’tsexually assault the boy.

He was apprehended shortly after 8:15 a.m. on Thursday, December29 – almost two weeks after being released from jail on parole fora burglary charge. He also previously served five years in prisonfor sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 1999 – a convictionthat led to him being marked as a Level 3 sex offender, which isthe designation granted to those considered to be the most violentand most likely to transgress again.

New York State law requires that registered sexoffenders who are on parole or probation live at least 1,000 feetfrom a school. However, sex offenders in general face noresidency restrictions unless they live in one of the 17counties in New York State – none of which is in New York City– that have local laws requiring registered offenders tolive a set distance from schools, parks, playgrounds and otherplaces that children frequent. County laws in Nassau and Putnam counties were voided by New York judgeslast year.

The fact that Pappas – who was on parole and thus would fallunder the state residency restriction – was able to live with hisbrothers at an unregistered address near both a park and severalschools while listing his address as the Bellevue Men’s Shelter inManhattan without being caught by his parole officer for violatingparole has outraged several local leaders.

I commend local law enforcement for their swift action incapturing the person allegedly responsible for this reprehensibleact, said Councilmember Sara González, who represents the SunsetPark neighborhood where the teen lives and was taken from. We mustfully examine the protocols to ensure nothing like this everhappens in our community again.

I am certainly going to look into what can be done for sometougher legislation with regard to monitoring sex offenders, saidCouncilmember Vincent Gentile.

Such calls for reflection and change are particularly resonantcoming mere months after a similar outcry following the abductionand gruesome murder of nine-year-old Leiby Kletzky only blocks fromhis Boro Park school.

In response to that event, a bill introduced late last year byAssemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and State Senator Marty Goldenwould increase penalties for predators who attempt to lure orentice a child by various means – raising it from a class Amisdemeanor to a class D felony. The bill would also increasepenalties for perpetrators who solicit youths for criminal activityor sexual encounters by using a vehicle, meeting in a secludedarea, or through social media.

With respect to the most recent incident, Golden said, Thesuspect should have never been released and I call on State ParoleCommissioners to keep our criminals in jail. If this individual wasnot given an early release, this would have never happened.Golden’s spokesperson John Quaglione added that there probablyneeds to be an overall evaluation on how we handle management andpunishment of sex offenders in our state.

There had to be a breakdown in communication between [Pappas]and either the parole officer or the Department of Corrections,said Quaglione. When released, there has to be a standardoperation procedure to track and monitor them.

Regarding state law, Quaglione added that if that is in factthe case [that only Level 3 offenders on parole or probation faceresidency restrictions], then that’s something we may look tocorrect.


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