Advocates work to close loophole allowing sex offenders to work with children

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A loophole that surprised even local prosecutors is a big concern for parents because it involves convicted sex offenders.

When parole is complete, there are no restrictions. Therefore, even sexually violent offenders can work around children, and some in the Capital Region do.

Fairy tales come to life at the Magic Forest in Lake George. But last summer, the season closed without a storybook ending.

Former employee 66-year-old Francis Germaine was arrested by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for not disclosing he was working around children. Germaine is a Level 3 sex offender – the strongest rating given when there is a high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety.

But case dismissed!

Surprisingly, sex offenders don’t have to tell police where they work if it’s been less than a year; even if it’s a children’s amusement park.

NEWS10 ABC met Melanie Blow at the New York State Capitol. It has become a familiar place for her and many other child abuse survivors who are pushing for laws like Statute of Limitations reform.

Blow was sexually abused by two separate relatives. She spent her adolescence on autopilot.

“With the second one, that happened for four years – the whole time I was in high school,” she said. “The second one, thankfully, is dead.”

Her other abuser is now a high school teacher, and Blow believes there are more victims.

“At what point did you realize there’s a problem here? This may be a loophole?” NEWS10 reporter Rachel Yonkunas asked.

“When I was trying to press charges against the first one, I thought, ‘Hmm, I need to see if there is something I can do here,’” Blow responded. “That’s when I learned, no, legally, there is nothing I can do.”

There have been New York Senate bills that would prohibit sex offenders from working with children. There have also been bills that would require sex offenders to register their employment address with the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Year after year since 2009, the bills have never made it to the assembly floor. But the other side is growing louder.

Blow said gone are the days where silence means safety. Now, she’s heading the Stop Abuse campaign, and she’s determined to close the loophole in sex offender laws.

“What would you say to any victim who is afraid to speak up or doesn’t feel like they have anyone to talk to?” Rachel asked.

“It’s not your fault; it’s not your fault; it’s not your fault,” Blow said. “When you get to the point where you can talk about it, it becomes a smaller and smaller part of you because then you can start growing and the trauma doesn’t.”

Blow has been working on closing the loophole for more than a decade. Victim advocates and other child abuse survivors have been fighting for the Sentiments of the Child Victims Act for 12 years.

Link to mobile app to see sex offenders in your area

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