Residents sound off over Level 2 sex offender

NEWSTEAD, N.Y. (WIVB) – Concerned parents and other residents in Newstead are sounding off about a sex offender who they do not want in their neighborhood.

New York State is moving away from placing people with developmental disabled into large institutions and instead placing them into smaller group homes. A very small number of them are registered sex offenders and one in particular is catching a lot of attention in Newstead.

Nearly 100 residents packed a special meeting Wednesday night at the Newstead Library in the Village of Akron to get answers about the People, Inc. group home that opened just seven weeks ago on Rapids Road. One of the residents is a Level 2 sex offender. Richard Preston, 59, is developmentally disabled. About 20 years ago he sexually abused a four-year-old girl.

“What guarantee do we have that there is no possible way that the sex offender cannot get out someway?” asked Pat Regan.

Neighbors were told that there is always supervision over the six residents at the home and they can only go unsupervised at work, if they have a job.

Kirk Maurer, Regional Director of the NYS Office of Developmental Disabilities, said, “It’s only those individuals, based on a comprehensive review, were deemed appropriate to return to community living who’ve gone to group homes.”

People, Inc. has more than 100 group homes in Western New York and this is the first time they’ve placed a registered sex offender in one.

“People, Inc. never would have taken anyone we felt we didn’t have the resources or expertise to serve, nor anybody that we thought was a danger to the other individuals, our staff or the community,” said People, Inc. COO Rhonda Frederick.

One neighbor says she was molested as a child, and she checked the sex offender registry before buying her home.

Elisa Dugan said, “What am I supposed to do? Because it happened to me. I am an adult victim.”

Now, Dugan is right next door.

“I go to bed at night, and he’s right there. Where are my rights? Where are New York State law abiding citizens’ rights?” she questioned.

The most serious level for sex offenders if Level 3, many of which live in western New York and are free to come and go from their homes. The sex offender being housed by People, Inc. is a Level 2 sex offender and is supervised by the staff at the group home.

If you’d like to find out if you live near a sex offender, you can use the New York State Sex Offender Registry.

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