West Seneca Boots Sex Offenders: What’s Wrong With Niagara Falls?

by Mike Hudson

What are local government officials to do when the state starts surreptitiously sending dangerous registered sex offenders to live in their municipality?

To hear Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster tell it, there is nothing that can be done about it. Dyster, who once quipped that sex offenders “have to live somewhere,” now presides over a city that no fewer than 198 Level 1, 2 and 3 rapists, molesters and perverts call home.

But down in West Seneca, officials took a different tack entirely when the state moved seven paroled sex offenders into two homes on Leydecker Road.

It took some time and a lot of effort, but last week the bad guys were gone.

Outraged citizens mobilized, and in February 2014 hundreds braved the freezing temperatures to hold a demonstration and march that went from a nearby neighborhood park to the group homes themselves. Among the marchers was state Assemblyman Mickey Kearns.

In April 2014, the West Seneca Town Board passed a resolution  passed a resolution asking the state to review its policy regarding the placement ofsex offenders and the policy on giving neighbors notice that sex offendersare moving in.

The state’s practice currently is simply to notify the local police that a sexoffender changed addresses.

Kearns filed a formal request for records in July 2014 and it wasn’t until September that he received an incomplete response from the office. He called the response “vague answers” and filed an Article 78 in State Supreme Court in Buffalo Friday. The action sought to compel the state Office of People with Developmental Disabilities to fully respond to a Freedom of Information Law request.

The seven West Seneca sex offenders were classified as developmentally disabled by the state. The state relocated the seven sex offenders from Erie and Niagara counties from a locked and segregated section of the state’s Monroe Developmental Center.chat room (1)

Kearns, whose district covers West Seneca, said his FOIL and article 78 reuests sought to find out who made the decision to place the sexoffenders in the municipality, and why they were placed there.

Residents kept up the pressure, calling both elected officials and the police whenever anything appeared amiss at the homes. In 2014, West Seneca police responded to no fewer than 59 emergency calls having to do with the two homes. In one instance, a worker there was attacked.

Last week, as quietly as they arrived, the seven men were gone, West Seneca police confirmed.

Prior to the evictions, there were 35 registered sex offenders living in West Seneca, a town of 44,711 residents. By contrast, the city of Niagara Falls, with a population of 49,722, is currently home to 195 convicted sexualpredators.

And unlike those in West Seneca, the pervert population in Niagara Falls isn’t confined to group homes. You can find child molesters and rapists in every neighborhood of the city.

Al Williams, 44, a 250-pound child abuser convicted in 2007, lives at 491 81st St., in the city’s LaSalle District. And George Salerno, 41, convicted ofsexual abuse in 1997, lives at 1451 Lafayette Ave., in the city’s tony DeVeaux section.

Craig Stroh, 36, prefers the tourist district, making his home at 624 Seventh St. He was convicted in 2002 of sexually abusing a child under the age of 11.

Rapist Alphonzo Sims, 42, makes his home at 802 Pierce Ave., in the city’s North End.

There are 39 registered sex offenders in Niagara Falls for every 10,000 people, compared to just 15 in the rest of Niagara County and 12 for every 10,000 statewide.

Concerned citizens, a proactive Town Council and a state Assemblyman ready to go to the mat combined to rid West Seneca of seven dangerous men. The problem is far worse in Niagara Falls, but the will to do something about it seems lacking.

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