City Council Candidate Dennis Saffran, a Republican running for the District 19 City Council seat, announced Monday that if elected he will introduce legislation to further protect children from molesters.
At a press conference held at the Willets Point Playground in Whitestone, the candidate, an attorney, said he had won an appellate court victory in Nassau County that allows over 100 municipalities throughout the state to continue to bar registered sex offenders from living near schools, playgrounds, or their own victims.
Pointing to five such predators who live near schools and playgrounds in the 19th District, Saffran called on the City Council to enact similar restrictions.
The press conference location on 166th Street is adjacent to PS 209 and near the North Side School, an early-childhood charter school on Utopia Parkway. It’s only a block away from the home of Arthur Fisher, a Level 2 sex offender who was convicted of sexually abusing a girl less than 11 years old, Saffran said.
He released a map and chart showing that 22 registered sex offenders live in the 19th District, including at least five near parks, daycare centers or schools.
Among them, according to Saffran, are John Shea, who raped a 9-year-old girl, and was classified as a Level 3 sex offender — meaning he is highly likely to repeat his offense — living two blocks from McNeil Park in College Point; John Prunty, a violent sex offender convicted of first-degree sexual abuse of a child, who resides a block away from St. Luke’s School in Whitestone; and Peter Legoff, who purposefully established a relationship with a 5-year-old in order to commit first-degree sexual abuse, who lives a block away from Powell’s Cove Park in College Point.
Saffran praised the appeals court ruling, saying: “This decision is a victory for parents across the state, allowing communities to pass laws that place the safety of children above the rights of dangerous predators.”
However, he added: “It is unacceptable that New York City has not passed such legislation providing our children with the same protection as the children in Nassau County and over 100 other localities around the state. And it is unacceptable that parents in Northeast Queens have to send their children to schools and playgrounds within walking distance of convicted child rapists and sexual predators.”
Saffran’s comments about the ruling echoed the statements of Parents for Megan’s Law chief Laura Ahearn, with whom he worked as director of the Center for the Community Interest, a national nonprofit focused on quality-of-life and anticrime reforms. The Long Island-based Ahearn called the decision “a tremendous victory for the community. The message is loud and clear — the protection of children is a top priority.”
Saffran will oppose Democrat Paul Vallone in the November election. The seat is being vacated by Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), who did not seek re-election after being indicted on federal bribery charges. The district includes Auburndale, Bayside, College Point, Douglaston, Little Neck and Whitestone.