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With the search still on for a man who police said sexually abused a young girl inside a local library, one northeast Queens lawmaker has renewed his push for a bill that would keep predators away from the children’s section.
In response to the incident, in which the New York Police Department said a man sexually abused a 10-year-old girl in the Pomonok branch of the Queens Public Library, state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck) revived his efforts to combat such assaults.
“This is absolutely outrageous,” Weprin said. “We simply cannot allow any more of our children to be harmed by registered sex offenders in our communities.”
Last year, Weprin co-sponsored a bill with state Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), which would block registered sex offenders from entering any children’s sections of public libraries. And in light of the most recent attack at the library in Pomonok, Weprin said he was once again advocating for the bill’s passage to prevent another incident.
“This horrific assault at Pomonok could have been prevented,” Weprin said. “It is a failure of our legal system that these predators are able to enter our public libraries and harm our precious children. We must stop this now.”
The NYPD described the suspect from the Pomonok incident as a Hispanic man between the ages of 20 and 25 who is about 5-foot-10 and weighs about 200 pounds.
Political advocates across the city came out in outrage against the assault, calling on tougher laws to keep children safe in areas where they are most likely to frequent. In wake of the Oct. 15 incident, city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called on the city to instill tougher laws to protect children.
“Today in New York City, a sexual predator could walk into a children’s room at any library, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them,” de Blasio said. “We need a tougher law that bans convicted offenders from children’s rooms to deter would-be attackers and empower law enforcement to quickly intervene. We intend to work closely with the state Legislature to protect children in our libraries.”
Weprin’s bill, originally introduced in 2011, came in response to a similar incident involving two small girls, ages 6 and 9, at another Queens Public Library branch. According to Weprin, the accused perpetrator was on parole for possession of child pornography at the time of the incident.
Moving forward, the lawmaker said he hoped to see tougher laws to build on those already in place, which currently bar sex offenders from entering school property and playgrounds.
“Libraries are places where our children learn — from the youngest toddlers to the freckled faces of our delightful teenagers — and there is no excuse for a convicted sex offender to have access to the children’s area of any library,” Weprin said. “New York state has taken numerous steps to ensure that sexual predators do not have access to children, but clearly we need to do more.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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