Arrest of repeat sex offender puts spotlight on preventive measures
The recent arrest of a registered sex offender who allegedly abused another child last month highlights the importance of strong state laws against sexual predators, officials with the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center said Friday.
Timothy Antonucci, 25, of Utica, was arrested Thursday based on allegations he had sexual contact with a 7-year-old child at her home in October, according to Rome police Investigator Ed D’Alessandro, who is assigned to the advocacy center.
Antonucci was registered as a Level 2 sex offender – Level 3 being the most serious – after his release from prison in August 2003, according to the New York State Department of Correctional Services. Antonucci was sentenced in Oneida County Court to three years in prison for sexually abusing a 6-year-old girl in 2000.
This time, Antonucci was charged with first-degree criminal sexual act, as well as the new felony crime of predatory sexual assault against a child, investigators said.
Like a murder charge, the predatory sexual assault charge carries a punishment of up to life in prison if convicted, investigators said.
“This case is a text-book example of why New York state has taken it upon itself to strengthen child abuse laws in 2006, along with civil commitment,” in which some sex offenders remain indefinitely confined in psychiatric facilities upon their release from prison, said Kevin Revere, law enforcement coordinator for the Child Advocacy Center.
Although it is rare in Oneida County for registered sex offenders to be arrested again for similar crimes, Revere said he expects those arrests to become more frequent as the most serious offenders now have to be registered for life.
Another registered sex offender, Louis Scavone, 48, of Yorkville, also was charged again in October with raping a young girl in 2005 after he had served a six-year prison term during the 1990s for preying on a child.
Scavone is rated as a Level 3 sex offender, and he is due to be sentenced Dec. 19 on the latest rape charge.
Because there is no known “cure” for whatever causes people to be attracted to children, Revere said it’s important to take as preventive of an approach toward convicted sex offenders as possible.
“As far as curing these (sexual predators) from their attraction to children, it hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t think it’s going to,” Revere said. “It’s just how they’re wired.”
The key is to keep registered offenders away from situations in which they might place a child at risk, and the current system of laws and monitoring is “stronger now than it’s ever been,” Revere said.
Here are some such measures, Revere said:
- All registered offenders must notify police whenever they change their addresses, and Level 2 and 3 offenders must periodically update their photographs with police for the state sex offender registry.
- Court-ordered conditions of probation or parole place legal restrictions on offenders, such has prohibiting them from possessing pornographic material or going near children in public places. If they violate those conditions, offenders can be returned to jail or prison.
- Mental health counseling tries to “persuade” these individuals to not put themselves in situations where they’re tempted in any way, shape or form.
“That temptation can always be there, so the best thing they can do is limit access to children and provide counseling,” Revere said.