WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – A state lawmaker was in state supreme court Wednesday looking for answers to why the state moved seven sex offenders into group homes in West Seneca.
“We’re just here to get answers,” said Assemblyman Mickey Kearns.
A quest for answers is turning into a folly of frustration for Kearns.
“It’s a tactic. It’s silence and delay. They’re delaying this, then they’re silent and not giving us the information,” Kearns said.
Kearns filed a Freedom of Information request in July to ask OPWDD – the Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities – among other things, why the state office placed 7 high risk sex offenders in two group homes on Leydecker Road in West Seneca.
Four of those sex offenders victimized children 8 years old or younger.
News 4 reported over the summer that police respond to those homes an average of twice a week — More than once because a sex offender wandered away.
OPWDD, the state office in charge of watching those men, denied Kearns’ FOIL request — and is now using taxpayer dollars to fight his request in court — today successfully earning another delay by requesting the case be moved to Albany County.
“Someone is covering something up. And I will continue to push until we get the answers we justly deserve,” Kearns said.
Leydecker Rd. resident Krissy Pittner said it does not surprise her at all that the state is refusing to release information.
Other neighbors are frustrated, which is nothing new.
“When you don’t get answers. You think that there’s something else going on,” Lina D’Amore said.
But they, and Assemblyman Kearns, want everyone to know this is an issue that affects more than just one street in a suburban area.
“Mark my word. this is a statewide issue,” Kearns said.
Kearns believes these sex offenders are receiving priority over other developmentally disabled people statewide who need group homes.
And if he’s wrong, well, the state agency in charge isn’t giving him any information to prove otherwise.
“To me, it’s just an egregious use of power. And I’m going to continue to fight until we get the answers,” Kearns said.
A representative from OPWDD refused to comment, even to answer why the office is fighting this FOIL request. This time the reason she gave was because the issue is now in court.
Judge Patrick NeMoyer will decide whether the case stays in Erie County, but there’s no timetable for that decision.