Calm, Historic Chilton Avenue Now on Alert With Presence of Level 3 Sex Offenders
By Frank Parlato
It began with a phone call.
Sometimes when the police or the mayor or their councilman can’t help, they look to the media.
She told me they moved into her neighborhood.
Dale Goff and Thomas Chew.--
Then I knew it was partly the fault of this newspaper that she had two men living nearby, the last kind of men she would want as neighbors.
Dale Goff and Thomas Chew are sex offenders, ranked level 3, the highest, most dangerous ranking the New York Criminal Justice Services offers, given to those who present a “high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety.”
Level 3’s must register for life and that means, sooner or later, the neighbors always find out.
The Niagara Falls Reporter broke the story last March that Goff and Chew, along with five other sex offenders, were living in a shabby rooming house known as the Midtown Inn, on Niagara St., steps away from the Niagara Street Elementary School, placed there by New York State Division of Parole despite the fact that state law prohibits paroled sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, a daycare, or a park.
Within a week after our story, all seven men were relocated.
Chew and Goff wound up on the street where she lived.
Whether he had done it before, we can only guess. But, in 2004, according to arrest records, Thomas Allen Chew cajoled, scared, then had sexual contact with a Niagara Falls girl, under the age of 11 and oral and anal sex with a child under 15.
He forced himself upon crying, frightened children.
Oral and anal sex.
For this, Chew got five years in prison. Then parole in 2009. He bounced around. He couldn't work. Who would hire him? He went from one shabby apartment to another. With an ankle monitor everywhere he goes.
Now he had come into this woman's life. He was her neighbor.
Her other new neighbor was Dale Goff. It is not known how many times it happened that he got alone with some boy or girl. Back in 1992, he fondled and molested two boys, 6 and 10, in Lockport.
Dale Lynn Goff, age 51, 6 ft. tall, 250 lbs. Brown hair, blue eyes. He has a tattoo on his left arm. Sexual Contact. Disseminating Indecent Materials to a Minor. Deviate Sexual Intercourse. These are some of the charges.
Goff showed pornography to one victim. In the sterile parlance of a police report, he then engaged in sexual contact with her before subjecting her to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
Imagine the terror of a child as a hulking 250-pound man forced himself on her.
In 2006, he was living in a house on Hawley Street in Lockport and he noticed a five-year-old girl. He watched her go inside her Walnut Street home.
He knocked on the door. She answered.
He asked to use the phone. Once in the house, Goff grabbed for her and reached under her clothing. She cried. She screamed. His plan aborted. Adults came, the police were called. He was arrested and convicted of Attempted Sexual Abuse in the first degree. He served five years and went on parole in 2011.
The little girl he almost raped back in 2006 is now12. The boys he molested in 1992 are 26 and 30. Another arrest report reveals two more, boys - age 29, and 27.
By the rules of his parole, Goff cannot have contact with children under 18 years of age unless in the company of an adult at least 21 years of age and with permission of his supervisor. He can't have a driver’s license. He cannot have contact with his victims. He has a curfew. He may not possess pornographic material. He must participate in sex offender treatment programs. And take polygraph tests. He cannot take sex enhancing drugs.
Goff's male victims are grown men now. Do they remember a six-foot tall, blue-eyed, hulking man who came after them one day, with candy at first, then touching and groping, then threats when they cried and how they closed their eyes and prayed for the moment to pass?
Chilton Avenue is full of children playing and neighbors talking, sitting on their porches.
A tree-lined little world on an early Friday summer evening.
Chilton Avenue is listed as part of a national historic district, 3,000 to 4,000-square foot brick and frame Colonials, Queen Annes and Tudors.
Elegant old homes, built from 1899 though the 1920's, with hardwood floors and third-floor attics, and interspersed with giant, now 100-year old maples, are green grass and gardens with red and white flowers.
It was once the premier street for successful professionals and businessmen. Dr Yeager lived here. And so did the Silverberg family who owned the big men's store and Max Oppenheim, the realtor. And the Rev. Engball of the Unitarian Church and the Dorwicz sisters; Rose had a jewelry shop. There was Ann Hall who owned Ann Hall Gift Shop; Polly King, the artist; and the Williamson family of the Cataract Ice Company. And Mr. Wicker of Wicker lumber. Dr. Eddy was the first to have an in-ground pool.
At the end of the street was Main Street with its furniture stores, and taverns, the dairy, the shoe store, the hat store, three banks, car dealers, the library, the clothing shop, the grocery store.
Anything you needed you could walk to, walk without fear.
Now all the stores on Main are vacant.
A street called Main Street that is vacant in a city tells a story about that city.
A shadow passed over Niagara Falls.
And as this generation died or moved out, the Chilton houses changed as Niagara Falls changed.
Some of the big houses became converted to doubles, some to apartments. Today, the street is still about 60 percent home owners. But these are not the affluent people who once lived there.
Landlords have purchased these once glorious homes for $45,000- $65,000. There are vacant homes.
Some are neglected. But on this warm summer evening, children are playing on the street like they did 60 years ago.
Some of older Chilton residents, now patient and gray, might remember summers spent out front. They felt the sun on their face, looked up to blue skies.
The world was small.
Tonight, Chilton Avenue is full of children playing and neighbors talking, some sitting on their porches.
“I have a 4-year old grandson," Jane, the woman who called me, and asked me to help, said. "We should have been notified. They’ve been here a couple of months. I just found out three days ago.”
We walked down the street.
“The neighbors are stunned. Nobody can believe it,” she said.
A middle-aged gentleman was sitting on his porch.
"The two of them are Level 3. It’s just a matter of time before they do something else and we have grandkids around here," he said.
Does it worry you?
"I’m concerned,” he said. “So what I was gonna do was pull their face up off the internet so that my grandkids can see who they are."
Jane: I was told by the parole officer that they were gonna move more sex offenders in here.
The man said, "That’s not good, not good at all."
As we walked down the quiet street, we passed a porch and on it there was a woman. She told me that this was her parents’ home and that she had live here all her life. Now she was a mother of six children, ages 28 down to eight years old.
"I feel very upset," she said. "I still have four that live at home. I can’t believe it; I don’t understand how this can be allowed with it being so close in proximity. The YMCA changes into a daycare and there’s a summer camp.
“Does this change your life,” I wanted to know.
"My youngest is eight and she’s not even allowed to cross the street by herself. She’s not even allowed to leave her yard without an adult and that’s ridiculous, but that’s the way it has to be"
“Is that because of the sex offenders or is that because of society in general,” I asked
Well, I also worry about society in general," the mother said. "But of course I worry about the sex offenders. I mean that’s right on my street. I can look across and see their house from my front porch. I just don’t understand. I think every bus stop and mental institution gets a pamphlet that says ‘Move to Niagara Falls, the rent is cheap’. This is horrible."
I asked her, “What do you think should be done about these two men. Should they be relocated?”
"Listen, I believe everybody deserves a second chance. But from what I’ve studied and what I’ve read, Level 3 offenders, I don’t think can be rehabilitated," the mother said.
One of her daughters came to the porch.
I asked her what she thought.
"Well of course it bothers me, I have a little sister," the daughter said.
Walking to the next home, I met Rob, a teacher and Don King on his porch.
I asked Don if he thought it was problem
"I don’t know about 'yet.' Now it’s not a problem," Don said. "I don’t know if you’ve got to give these people a fair chance or not. I don’t know. I see they were sweeping out there today trying to make the property look good. Years ago this street used to be called ‘Children’s Avenue,’ instead of Chilton Avenue because we had so many kids. We still do. But now we have lots of kids whose parents, unfortunately, don’t take care of them. They’re on the street by themselves. If these sex offenders become dangerous again, I think the parents ought to be aware of it, that’s all. Then it’s up to the parents to take responsibility and watch their kids.
"But there are so many children on this block and they’re all over the place, so if all this adds up - and there’s nothing yet - but do you try to anticipate any challenges?... I don’t know."
"Ralph Pescrillo is their landlord," Jane said, "and I'm told that when the woman and her children who live above the sex offenders moves out - and they are moving out because they're scared- that Pescrillo will be moving more sex offenders in."
"The street is at a crossroads,” Don said. "It’s changed over the years. The number of children that live on the block now who are unsupervised is a scary thing by itself."
"The unsupervised children, believe it or not, live in one of Ralph Pescrillo's apartments just up the street," Jane said. "There are four little kids, all probably under the age of five, running around here at midnight alone. Child Services doesn’t do anything. If they move more sex offenders upstairs, it is going to be a problem. I have to sit in my living room and close my curtains now because when I look outside I don’t know if those guys are looking or peeking through their mini blinds."
"The quality of life, I think, is being challenged," Don said.
"As far as we’ve all been told, there’s not a whole lot we can do legally," Rob said. "They’re allowed to live wherever they want. Nobody wants them in their neighborhood. But they have rights, unfortunately. You’d like to think they’re just animals but they have rights. As neighbors, it’s our job to keep the streets a nice community but the bottom line is... what can we do besides alert one another?"
"There are 15 or 20 unsupervised kids on this street,ages 2 - 12,” Jane said.
Unsupervised, I asked.
"Yes. Little ones out at night, some are two, three years old, playing in the streets," Don said.
"All the kids are very friendly, which is a nice quality, until you’re friendly to the wrong person," Rob said.
"The ankle monitor means zip to me because you can molest and rape a child while you’ve got that on," Jane said. "You could be within your distance and still hurt somebody."
While walking to another house, as I toured the street, two men were on the front porch. One of the men yelled to Jane, "Do you remember that guy Dale’s last name?"
I walked over to the house and learned it is a rehab house for drugs and alcohol.
The men who live there go to school or work and get counseling. Some of them perform community service.
"I’m not comfortable with it," RJ said in answer to my question.
“I’m not comfortable with it at all," Jack said, "but we can’t get involved because we are here in the people's eye as it is, but I don’t like it. There are a lot of children that are up and down this street on a daily basis. A lot of the mothers are letting them run around in bathing suits and when I found out about this, it really got to me. But what am I supposed to say?"
"It’s not only this street, the red dots pop up everywhere on the online sex registry map," RJ said, "but it’s truly different when it’s on your street. I know exactly which house it is. And I was molested as a kid when I was seven so it really hits home."
"You don’t have to build a case here," Jack said. "I'll tell you, personally, I'll kick his f--- a-- if he comes around here.”
Next down the street was a man named John, the father of an eight-year-old boy.
"I'm not real happy about it," he said. "People commit a crime and you know, you serve your time and as long as you can keep your s-- together. There are more sex offenders in the immediate area than I think people realize, so I wasn’t really shocked by it. I raised my kid right. He’s taught right from wrong so I might be less concerned than others who might not raise their kid that way; he’s not a sheltered kid. He already knows about this, he’s well aware.
"I know some people catch a bad rap because they upset the wrong girl but if you’re messing with kids, that’s a whole new category. If you’re let out of prison you should be put in some country area where there aren’t houses within 1000 feet of you, let alone children."
I went next to house of the sex offenders. Outside I met the woman who lived upstairs. It was dusk.
I said, "So you recently found out that you have some..."
She finished my sentence... "Pedophiles living downstairs. I confronted one of them about it and he basically said ‘I wouldn’t do nothing like that’ and then Jane pulled up the flyers and showed them to me which kind of let me know that it was real."
How is it affecting you?
"Basically, I’m uncomfortable living here now because I have four girls 13, 14, 18, 21. They know; I’ve told them," she said. "I’m trying to move - definitely if the landlord doesn’t do anything with them, I’m gonna move. The landlord basically told me that he can’t discriminate against them so it’s ok for them to stay here, but I don’t feel safe."
Has it changed your life in any real way?
"It really has,” she said. “I’m really fearful about pedophiles because I was molested as a child so it worries me a lot. That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been trying to move out. Now I never leave my kids here by themselves because it’s frightening. Hopefully after I move, they’ll be able to get them out of the neighborhood because it isn’t safe."
It was now dark.
I went next to the door of Dale Goff and Thomas Chew.
I knocked. Goff came to the door but didn’t open it.
"Mr. Goff?" I said, "I want to talk to you for a minute."
Goff: “About what?”
"About your neighborhood and the reaction of people here," I told him.
"Let me call my parole officer real quick,” Goff said.
He disappeared for a moment then came back, still standing behind the door.
"I know who you are," he said. "You’re from the Reporter, aren’t you? My parole officer told me not to talk to you. "
"But I would like to hear your side of the..."
"Come on. I know how you work. You 'suicided' us in the paper at the Midtown."
"That’s because it was next to the school."
Goff seemed like he was almost crying.
"You said it was 950 feet. It was 1050 feet. I'm not going to talk to you."
"Is Chew here?" I asked.
"When’s his curfew”
"Right now,” he said.
"Right now? It's 9:24 p.m. Isn’t Chew’s curfew 9 p.m.," I said.
Goff didn't answer. He shut the lights and the television set off in his apartment. There was silence. I waited a moment. Then I knocked at the door.
I saw Goff, through the sheer curtains covering his front door, lurking in the shadows of his apartment.
He crouched down. Perhaps he didn't think I could see him. But he was literally inches away on the other side of the door, lying on the floor, peering up at me through the bottom of the curtains, watching and hiding.
I knew he wouldn't come out and talk to me.
Then I called Ralph Pescrillo
"Hi Ralph, this is the Niagara Falls Reporter."
[Silence] "...How can I help you?"
"I’m over here on Chilton Ave...."
"I have no comment, Buddy."
Ralph hangs up.
The neighbors put flyers in everyone's mailbox describing the pair, warning neighbors and telling them to report it to the police if they are seen making contact with any of the children on this street.
At the end, there may be no point, no moral. No ending to this story. The thoughts, attitudes, even prejudices. And suspicion is duly recorded. If it has changed the way people hear the sounds of children laughing or watch them playing on the streets, then let it also be recorded that a shadow passes overhead on Chilton Avenue.
As I went to my car, about to leave, I could hear the sounds of children laughing and playing on the street. They will remember blue skies and summers spent out front and how they felt the sun on their face.
On Chilton Avenue, the world is small.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com|| |
AUG 13, 2013