Exclusive update: Sex offenders in group homes

Created: 07/31/2014 6:22 PM WHEC.com
By: Brett Davidsen

Convicted sex offenders moved quickly into neighborhood group homes. A dozen sex offenders had been staying at the Monroe Developmental Center in Brighton until the state closed it down. News10NBC tracked seven of those sex offenders to two group homes in West Seneca with families living on the same street. News10NBC is learning how many times police have been called to those group homes since the sex offenders moved in. 

News10NBC discovered since the beginning of the year, police have been called to two group homes dozens of times. On two occasions, the calls were for sex offenders who had gone missing.

Fran Gray said, "It is a security issue. There is a park right behind here. This entire neighborhood is full of kids and it is not the place to be housing sexual predators."

Gray lives with his wife and three young children just down the street from the group homes. In February, News10NBC was first to report that seven sex offenders with developmental disabilities had been quietly moved to the homes in West Seneca after the state closed the Monroe Developmental Center in Brighton. At the time, the state said the homes were secure and the community's safety was of utmost importance, but Gray says you only need to see the flashing police lights on a regular basis to feel otherwise.

Gray said, "Police and the fire department are constantly down the street, at least a couple times a week.”

Through a Freedom of Information Request, News10NBC obtained a list of phone calls to 911 for the two addresses that house the sex offenders. Since January 1, there have been 59 calls to police or the fire department. Those calls range from a disorderly person, harassment to fire alarms and confused adults.

On two occasions, residents walked away from the homes. According to the complaint reports, in April, sex offender Timothy Knisley was reported as a runaway. He was later found nearby. Earlier this month, Gregory Tyman had to be coaxed out of the woods after wandering off. 

Gray says neighbors were never notified in either case.

Gray said, "So now that we are finding out two of these guys have already escaped, every time the police go by, the kids are in lockdown. Everybody is hustled into the house and we don't do anything until my wife or I come out and check and see what's going on."

It's pretty clear from the lawn signs how neighbors feel about having the sex offenders shipped from Rochester to live on their street. Colleen Ladori says the state is ignoring their concerns. 

Ladori said, "Why don't you put them near your family and friends or yourself? Why keep them here? If they're not that bad, keep them where you live."

The head of the agency contracted with the state to oversee these homes says the majority of calls were made by an auto dialing system for fire detection. He points out there have been no incidents impacting neighbors. He also says the two incidents of residents walking away were a result of their feeling agitated by the treatment by the community. 

Since News10NBC first broke this story, the New York State Senate has passed legislation that would prohibit sex offenders from living in community residences. The Assembly, though, has yet to take any action on the bill. 

News10NBC did receive a statement from the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. It says they are continuing to try to find permanent housing for the individuals and are working with local law enforcement to ensure the safety of the community.

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