Media Jumps on West Seneca Sex Offenders; In Niagara Falls, We're Pretty Much On Our Own
By Mike Hudson
The headlines grabbed the front pages of newspapers and spread across the airwaves all across the Niagara Frontier.
Outrage in West Seneca"
"Sex offenders in group homes stir questions in West Seneca;
Officials, residents unable to get answers"
"Seven sex offenders registered at Leydecker Road group home""Residents outraged over sex offender in group home"
The Buffalo News, the local television news programs, and the West Seneca Sun all suggested a crisis in the making. The state moved seven sex offenders into two group homes that had previously housed developmentally disabled individuals on Leydecker Road in West Seneca
The seven new arrivals bring to 37 the total number of registered sex offenders living in the upscale suburb of around 45,000 mostly white residents.
Compare that to Niagara Falls, which has about 3,000 more residents but 169 sex offenders, nearly five times as many as in West Seneca.
Aside from this newspaper, the mainstream media has been largely silent about the warehousing of sexual predators here in West Seneca, where there is one offender for every 304 residents-That's one offender to every 2,595 residents. So why the media firestorm?
The answer could be something as simple and as complicated as money. The average home in West Seneca sells for $139,564 and the median household income is $53,231. Compare that to Niagara Falls, where the average home sells for just $67,894 and the median household income is $31,776.
Another startling difference between West Seneca and Niagara Falls is that the former is virtually homogenous, with nearly 98 percent being white while our town has a racial mix resulting in a Caucasian population of just over 70 percent.
Those are big social and cultural divides. There are no slums in West Seneca where the state can dump not only sex offenders but every other sort of paroled criminal as well and not have the neighbors complain.
In fact, it has only been when registered sex offenders have been illegally housed in residences located too close to schools, playgrounds and daycare centers that any sort of fuss has been made at all.
Last November, when registered sex offenders were moved into two homes on historic Chilton Avenue, the neighbors complained to anyone who would listen.
The homes are owned by a Maryland-based non-for-profit organization called Oxford House and a man named Ralph Pescrillo, who owns more than 100 properties around the city.
Pescrillo moved six child rapists, molesters and other dangerous predators into the six bedroom house he owns, including Thomas Chew, 53, who has been classified as "sexually violent" by the state Parole Board. Chew was first convicted of forcing two young boys, ages 9 and 11 and then, after getting out of prison, two young girls, ages 11 and 13, to engage in oral and anal sex with him.
And Shawn Blount, who also likes them young, convicted of engaging in deviate sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 17.
And Ricky Horton (who likes them even younger) convicted of committing a Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree with a victim less than 11 years old.
And Dale Goff, 51, a hulking 250-pounder who molested two boys, ages 6 and 10, in 1992, did a prison stretch and, on release in 2006, attempted to rape a five-year-old girl.
Chilton Avenue is part of a National Historic District. Most of the homes there are large and elegant brick and frame structures built around the turn of the 20th Century.
Like much of the city, the formerly fashionable street is now somewhat down at the heels, but remains home for numerous families.
"I've got a four-year-old grandson who visits me here," said Jane, a close neighbor who is fearful of having her real name used. "Now I can't let him out of the house by himself."
Jane said she personally complained to Councilwoman, Kristen Grandinetti, who has done nothing to address the problem.
Interestingly, Pescrillo is a neighbor of Grandinetti's-and of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster-on Orchard Parkway, part of the same historic district as Chilton Avenue.
After the Niagara Reporter broke the story, no other area media took the least interest in it. Perhaps if Chilton Avenue was in West Seneca, the outcome would have been different.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
Feb 18, 2014