Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, joined by Executive Director of Parents for Megan’s Law, Laura Ahearn, revealed that current laws restricting sex offenders’ access to children does not restrict pedophiles from working with children in jobs which are not funded by the government. These glaring gaps in federal law allow pedophiles to work as coaches, carnival ride operators, dance and music teachers, and many other occupations that by their nature allow sex offenders to have direct contact with children. Schumer is introducing legislation which would strengthen restrictions on sex offenders to keep them away from any job or volunteer position that requires substantial interaction with kids. Schumer’s legislation comes on the heels of news reports that a convicted child molester in Queens was running a karate school and two convicted sex offenders were working as high school basketball referees in New York City, allowing them direct interaction with children.
“Convicted sex offenders should not be able to hold any job or volunteer position where they have interaction with children in New York or across the country, period,” Schumer said. “The fact that these sex offenders are able to coach our children’s teams, operate rides at fairs, and give dance and music lessons is beyond scary and we must take immediate action to stop it. This new legislation will close this huge loophole so no children are put into harm’s way.”
“Dangerous loopholes exist in local and state laws which allow convicted sex offenders to work in positions of trust where they can have unlimited access to potential child victims. I commend Senator Schumer for leading the charge to prevent known predators from gaining access to our most vulnerable,” said Laura A. Ahearn, Executive Director of Parents for Megan's Law and the Crime Victims Center.
Schumer’s legislation comes following reports that a convicted child molester was running a karate school in Glendale, Queens. Nine years prior, the man was convicted of sexually abusing an 11 year old girl. He spent six months in jail and was sentenced to five years probation and is labeled a level 2 offender, considered at ‘medium’ risk to repeat. Also, the New York City high school basketball community was shocked to discover that two convicted sex offenders were allowed to referee games for years. One of the referees, a resident of Queens, was caught molesting several girls as young as 14; the other, a Staten Island resident, was convicted of sexually abusing a 13 year old in 1992.
Currently, registered sex offenders can hold various positions that require direct contact with children. The following is a sampling of the positions convicted sex offenders can hold: karate instructor, dance instructor, music instructor, magician, clown, amusement park and carnival worker, sports, recreation and entertainment center worker, video arcade employee, child theme party store worker, private tutor, coach for youth sports, youth mentoring facility worker, and children museum worker.
Schumer’s legislation would amend current federal law to prevent explicitly convicted and registered sex offenders from accepting paid or volunteer employment positions which by their inherent nature places an individual in direct and substantial contact with minors. Currently, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 leaves sex offender employment decisions up to the states. Schumer’s legislation would require states to prevent sex offenders from accepting any of these child-serving positions, ensuring that children across the country are protected from offenders.
Schumer added, “When it comes to the safety of the children across New York, we cannot be too careful - it’s time to prevent sex offenders from gaining access to our children once and for all.”