Pol says subway gropers should be labeled as sex offenders

Lentol’s bill would require offenders to register with state

July 29, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Passengers ride the D train. Legislation is needed to better protect subway riders, according to Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol
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A lewd passenger who gets caught groping a woman on the subway would be required to register with New York State as a sex offender under legislation Assemblymember Joseph R. Lentol is drafting.

Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) said he will reintroduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would increase the severity of the crime for those convicted of forcibly touching others in the subway or in other crowded situations.

There is a dire need for the legislation, according to Lentol, who said there have been an overwhelming number of cases where offenders physically and sexually harass riders on crowded subways or buses.

The bill would require individuals convicted of forcible touching to register as a sex offender under certain conditions, including if the offender was previously convicted of forcible touching, if the victim was younger than 18 or if the offender had been convicted of a different sex crime in the past.

Under state law, convicted sex offenders are required to register with the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services when they are paroled. The ex-cons are required to tell state officials where they are living and working so that authorities can keep track of them.

“My legislation addresses the seriousness of this crime while keeping it in form with New York’s penal code. It aims to clearly establish that this conduct is a crime. It’s wrong. Do not do it. If you do, you may end up in jail. And if this behavior is indeed a predictor of future behavior, these individuals will be tracked by law enforcement authorities,” Lentol said.

A recent analysis of NYPD subway crime statistics by the New York Daily News found that there were more than 3,000 misdemeanor sex offenses committed in the New York City subway system during the five year period between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2013.

Grand Central Station had the most of any station in the city, the Daily News found. The transit hub, where several subway lines intersect with commuter rail lines, had 369 misdemeanor sex offenses between 2008 and 2013.

At the busy Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center station in Brooklyn, where the 2, 3, 4, 5, D, N and R trains all stop, there were 29 misdemeanor sex offenses reported in that five-year period. The Court Street station in downtown Brooklyn, where the 2,3,4,5 and R trains stop, there were seven incidents reported during that time span.

“Increasing the punishment for this lewd behavior will certainly serve to protect individuals on subways and deter individuals who may consider this heinous act. There is no reason someone should be subjected to this type of behavior, especially when it is unavoidable in the tight quarters of a crowded subway car,” Lentol said.

His bill would amend Section 130.52 of the penal law to expand on forcible touching in an enclosed area where then suspect “intentionally selected, for such act or acts, a location that made it difficult or impossible for the victim to avoid such touching or sexual contact.”

The addition of subway groping to the penal law would increase the severity of the crime from a class B misdemeanor to a class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of one year jail time and one year of probation.  

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