“Alone, Helpless, & Living in Fear”

This is how it starts:

I broke the law once in my life – and it was not an act to consciously hurt someone. All my life I have never wanted, and still do not want, to hurt anyone – and apart from my foolishness 14 years ago don’t imagine that I have.

Now, however, as a registrant, I live in daily fear of my life being taken. I’m posting here just so someone, somewhere, maybe, can read about it, and maybe take something positive from it.

It was posted on the members’ forum here at Reform Sex Offender Laws, Inc. on December 23, 2014. As I am an admin on that forum, I check it as often as time allows.

It went on to describe the reasons the writer, Todd, a disabled veteran and a registrant on the New York public sex offender registry for a sexual crime committed in 2000, has for fearing his life could be at risk.

Flyers with his name, picture, and apartment number were posted on the ground floor of his apartment building in the Rockaway area in Queens, NYC. He suspected a local community board of posting them. He continued writing:

…neighbors [started getting] involved, at least one of whom has come to my door three times to harass me, and posted bills up in my hallway with the word “DEAD” written across my face in black letters. My personal security camera system was vandalized and is now partially inoperable.

I’ve called the police four times in the last week. They take 30 minutes to arrive, which would be far too late if someone intended to break down my door and kill me.

If this article, posted in the Rockaway Wave, is indicative of the prevailing attitude toward registered citizens trying to get their lives together, just trying to survive long after their punishment has been completed, then the neighbors of Todd, who is named in the article along with others on the registry, are acting in concert with the neighborhood.

A former attorney, Todd sent a formal letter of Cease and Desist to the chair of the community board, the president of the Queens borough, and the office of the Mayor of New York City. He sent a copy to other city, law enforcement, and various other public officials and professionals. He included the full text of everything in the forum post, which he titled, “Alone, Helpless, & Living in Fear.” Later the same day, December 23, he posted this on the same thread:

Update: About 30 minutes ago someone attacked my door and broke through it. One of the panels was broken and left a hole you could put a two-liter of soda through. The police came and took another report, the 4th in 4 days. There’s little indication that the police think this is a threat against life, not a door.

It was at this point that I and another RSOL admin read what he had written and started corresponding with him on the forum, and I also sent emails and talked with him on the telephone.

I suggested trying to get outside help and, with his permission, contacted a personal friend in New York who has local connections.

The next day, he wrote on the forum that things had improved. His landlord moved him to another apartment, sent in people to help him crate things up and move, and assured him of working security cameras and of his own attempts to find out who was responsible for the damage and threats. Todd was grateful for their help as well as for the interest of RSOL.

His next forum post, February 11, six weeks later, was this:

I am sad to report that my situation has now gotten even worse.

Despite the assurances of my landlord that the place to which he moved me was “safe” (all the security cameras worked, etc.):

At 2:12 pm on February 9th while I was listening to Buddy Holly, my room’s window was smashed in and police grade pepper spray was sprayed into the room. I was home, and within a few minutes would become incapacitated as a consequence of this. I managed to call 911 and after about 8 minutes numerous responders were there, and I was taken to the hospital.

Unfortunately, my room was no longer livable, and my landlord had me take all of my stuff to a U Haul storage.

I am currently staying at the JFK Radisson, and my funds and resources will run out within days.

My NY friend had done some investigating and found that most shelters won’t take registered citizens, but she did have a couple respond favorably and suggested a place called Mainchance to him if things reached that point. They appear to have done so. In spite of long periods of no Internet connection, he finally saw her email. He replied to her, and to me, with the news of his hospitalization and imminent homelessness and concluded with:

As you might imagine, I have made every possible effort to get into some other rental or rooming situation in the last 3 days, but most of my papers and other things I need for this (like a credit report) aren’t available – and in any case usually take time. In my possession right now I have my ID and other important cards (Social Security, health insurance, ID), my laptop computer, and a single set of clothes, which I’ve been wearing since just after the attack on the 9th. And that’s it.

If I do not find another place to live in the next 24 to 48 hours, I will be homeless – and most of my stuff will have been destroyed or lost…I’m not sure how much or often I will be able to be on the Internet or get email from now on.

If I am not able to see or hear from you in the future, thanks for what you have done.

And then on February 14—Valentine’s Day—at 6:45 a.m. he sent this:

Sandy:

All of my efforts to obtain some accommodation have failed. I am going to the homeless shelter on 30th street in NYC.

From now on, I have no idea what will happen or where I will end up.

T.

That is the last communication I have had from him. My emails have gone unanswered. He has posted nothing further on the forum. I have no idea if I will ever hear from or of him again. * see addendum

This is Todd’s story, and it is appropriate that it conclude with his words. He started by saying that he hoped his experience and his writings would result in something positive, in some way, for someone. If there is anything positive to be gleaned from any of this, it is here, in these words:

I would guess that I do not need to elucidate on the fact that while I have been the victim of numerous crimes in the last two months, all engendered by my status on the registry, it should be obvious to anyone that whoever or whatever group is doing these kinds of attacks are much more of a danger to the community than a typical registrant.

One of the staff from the Rockaway units that was assigned to help the landlord’s son-in-law move my stuff to the U Haul in Far Rockaway said, “Well, you can go start a new life somewhere.” That’s why I moved to NYC and into the spaces rented there in the first place. You can’t start a new life anywhere if everywhere you go people force you to start a new life somewhere else, and strike at you with vicious and destructive violence if you don’t leave.

*Addendum: Finally, on February 22, I received this from Todd:

Hello Sandy, thanks for your concern.

I entered the NYC Homeless Shelter system on 14 February, at the 30th Street Center. On 17 February I was able to arrange (simply because I stumbled across a veteran’s office within that shelter) a transfer to an assessment shelter called BRC in Brooklyn. On the 20th, I was transferred to a veteran’s shelter on 89 Porter Street, also in Brooklyn. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before that I am in fact a service-connected disabled veteran, in addition to my other status. The veteran’s shelter is much more dignified than the others, and the food is better. I have several (about half a dozen) appointments in the coming weeks, some for medical care and some for assessment to participate in veteran’s housing programs. I most likely do not qualify for HUD-VASH, which is the only active section 8 program allocating new housing vouchers for homeless people in the country, because of my status as a sex offender, However, I do qualify for something called SSVF, which should enable me to get a room somewhere even with my low level of income. I don’t know how long this takes, but the accommodations available locally are at best a room with roommates, or possibly an SRO room (where you have no roommates, but no kitchen or bathroom).

Going forward I will continue to explore what other kinds of options are available. My own experience here makes it all the more obvious how difficult, if not tragic or impossible, it is for RSOs who are not fortunate enough to be military veterans to get some kind of basic help to get housing even if they have a low or moderate income, much less something relatively safe or stable.

Once again, thanks for your inquiry.

Todd

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    • #11550 Reply
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      Alex

      An article about disgust, hatred, and banishment of RSOs: http://www.nlg.org/sites/default/files/NLGRev%2071-3%204th%20draft.pdf

    • #11551 Reply
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      BOBBY RYE

      I BELIEVE THAT ALL OF US SEX OFFENDERS NEED TO COME TOGETHER AND FIGHT THIS TOGETHER. GO TO THE COURTS AND PROTEST THIS ALONG WITH OUR FAMILY. IF ALL THE SEX OFFENDERS IN THE US CAME TOGETHER WE COULD GET THIS CHANGED. I DO HOWEVER BELIEVE THAT VIOLENT OFFENDERS AND REPEAT OFFENDERS DO NEED TO BE ON THE LIST. BUT FIRST TIME OFFENDERS AND NON VIOLENT SHOULD NOT BE.WE SHOULD BE GIVEN THE SECOND CHANCE AS OTHER FELONS DO.I HAVE BEEN OUT OF PRISON NOW FOR 8 MONTHS AND I HAVE TRIED TO GET A JOB AND IT HAS BEEN A NIGHT MARE. YES THERE ARE SOME THAT NEED TO BE KEPT FROM THE PUBLIC BUT DO NOT PUNISH US ALL FOR ONE PERSON GIVE THE ONES A CHANCE THAT WANT TO DO GOOD A CHANCE TO DO IT.YES KEEP US ON THE LIST UNTIL WE GET OFF PAROLE AND THEN LET US OFF THE LIST SO WE CAN LIVE OUR LIVES IN PEACE.IF WE ALL JOIN FORCE WE CAN CHANGE THIS.

    • #11552 Reply
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      Anonymous

      I agree with you that everyone deserves a second chance, however the entire registry needs to be abolished. Why would you release anyone from prison if you are going to tie their hands so they can’t succeed? If they are that violent and that dangerous than don’t let them out. Instead, the state makes it so they have to live under a bridge, can’t find a job, and gets the citizenry riled up to encourage vigilantism.

      The politicians know this, but their reelection is more important than the Constitution.

      Best wishes.

    • #11553 Reply
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      Susan

      The sex offender laws and registry go beyond unreasonable. People are released to fail (and maybe that is why). There was the war on drugs and drug offenders were targeted. Then there was the driving laws Sex offender laws started and continued. Next in line is domestic violence. Our constitution was made that when people paid for their crimes they were able to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. in the early 1700’s and 1800’s people were driven by fear and didn’t take much to convince people whether they believed it or not. Shaming was not uncommon. What has changed since then. Maybe the creation for more and more useless laws? we could live next to an arsonist, murder, serial killer but that is OK with the public just as long as it is not a RSO. Tell me, what is wrong with this picture???

    • #11554 Reply
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      James Townsend

      Bobby Rye Your exactly right. I’m here in Virginia and even thou those on the registry are all bundled in to one big “melting pot” they are all hindered, stigmatized, and ostracized in one way or another. Job outlooks are bleak, housing, family life, and other factors put fear and loneliness in the one’s on the registry. I CHALLANGE

    • #11555 Reply
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      Martin

      Yes I agree with you!
      I have a young friend (ex marine) who is on the register. His crime is having an under aged girlfriend. He has served his 2 years prison sentence for his crime and now faces life on the register. He is a good young man that once made a very poor judgement call. I fully accept that his behavior is not acceptable in our society, and those that overstep the boundaries of moral and ethical standards should be accountable for their actions. I also know that like many misguided youth, my young friend never set out to hurt anyone. He always displayed honesty and sincerity towards other human beings and he always displayed respect for those around him. He was raised to know the difference between right and wrong. I know that he would never use poor judgement again as he did in his final year of being a marine. Not alone has the register destroyed his young life, but it has also affected the life of his mother who stands by him through thick and thin so that he can learn to cope with this never ending tether that he has been shackled to. Those that break the law and inflict injury on others must pay for their crimes, and without doubt there are some very dangerous people on the register, but there are thousands of people like my young friend who are victimized by the register. I wish that a national coalition of parents, spouses, friends and concerned citizens of low risk registrants could come together as one voice to educate the law makers of this country on how a poorly thought out law is having such a negative impact on so many that sincerely regret and have served their punishment for their crimes of poor judgement.

    • #11556 Reply
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      Alan E Jones

      So true. I have relatives who loved me who totally avoid me because they don’t want to be seen as associating with a registered sex offender. I cant find a new place to live, so many cities and counties have made laws that basically ban me from the entire place. I am highly skilled but every job I applied did a background check and then did not want me. I don’t know where to go, where to work, how to make friends not afraid. What I did was in front of one of my children in the 1980s, yet I still have a team of police come and search my house each year leaving it a mess.

    • #11557 Reply
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      David

      I’ve recently been released from registration in the state of my conviction and even tho Florida has no misdemeanor sex offense laws I’m concerned they may try to keep me on the registry for life. I’ve been homless and unemployed 3 years as anyone can guess why they make no differation between an offender and a predator let alone between a misdemeanor and a felon. anybody know anyone around Florida who could help out?

    • #11558 Reply
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      Kevin

      I’m in Virginia and am a rso. My crime was committed in 1987. I was finally released from parole/probation in 2014. Virginia says the registry is not punitive, nor does it disadvantage the offender. This is bs!! I can’t get a job despite spending 11 years in prison where I got a college degree, various certifications, etc.
      I wish some of us can get together to sue Virginia for violating our (pre-1994) ex post facto laws. Please help, someone.

    • #11559 Reply
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      James Townsend

      I am on the registry and I’m not proud of myself as being on the registry has given me insight to what some go thru. It is very sad. Maybe I got off lucky with probation but I don’t feel lucky. My life is ruined also with the registry with jobs, living in fear, insecurity and stigmatization, but there is always a silver lining to every dark cloud. One of our presidents said: “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself”. I know that saying today doesn’t mean much but we all can change things. Either we can sit on our “butts” or do something about it. I am in Virginia and since I got involved in the sex registry I am using the registry as a platform as its not only effecting me but all others on the registry. We all need to stand up, Protest if we have to. Get groups in area’s’ were we live. 10 or twelve people getting a protest together. E-mail news media’s, have them run something in the paper about the discrimination’s of the sex registry, how its not working, and putting panic in people. Email congressman’s and whoever to make your voice herd. If you want to do something worth wile than stand up for your fellow brother on the sex registry. The registry is unlike any other crime and one that puts one in bondage the rest of their life. So you can either live with it the rest of your life or band together and change it. Didn’t they stand up for the Civil Rights Movement, well I think we can all stand up for the registry. I know the RSOL is doing all they can but its also up to us.

    • #11560 Reply
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      Mary Paul

      I agree with you James. It is time for thing to change. My son did a stupid thing when he was 14-15. Now he will be on the registry for the rest of his life. He has been a active member of society since but that does not matter they only look at what was not what is. With so many families being affected you would think more would step up instead of stay in hiding. What are they so scared of, they can’t hurt us any more than they are doing right now.

    • #11561 Reply
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      Lori

      Omg Susan o said the same thing my fiance us in a 12 Mont violation right now, he was convicted of attempted rape in 2nd for a 15 year old girl who lied and said she was 19 looked the part other guys,were involved at a party, her mother couldn’t control her so this was her control, in her statement she named all 3 and explained the whole thing how it went down and for how long with each but my fiance us the only one who was pubished, his lawyer didn’t even introduce his medical records and disabilities after he gets released we can’t even live together bc of my 6 year old son, yet there are worse ppl than this and we are not notified who we live next door to at all why isn’t any if this considered violation. This is a good man I have who was trapped in a messed up situation, because of this girls deceit, why isn’t she punished for impersonation or fraud certain people get off for worse things, now I’m looking for a civil rights attorney to look into his case and am contacting politicians bc it’s unfair my fiance was punished for something he basically is innocent of because thus little girl made her decision to lie so she can get away with what she wanted to and determined my fiances life for him!

    • #11562 Reply
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      Sidney Rex

      I have did my time. And am trying to make a name for my self . My past has me setting all by myself and I need help because people think that they can do what they .what to like have sex on job when no one is looking .

    • #11563 Reply
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      hg

      I agree very much with you and everyone that have to live with this unjust LAW. I was sitting at home minding my own business when I get a knock at the door from a young person that lied about her age wanting to clean. After a few times she came with ID to prove that she was of age because I wasn’t sure she was, come to find out she wasn’t. Now I am on the registry. During the time I had to appear in and out of court this person had been sleeping around with other grown men lying about her age and the same time she kept coming over to my house knowing she was already pregnant for another grown man. During the three years I was fighting for my life and freedom in court, that I did not know the age of this person she had committed other crimes by breaking into a Church along with her mother and mother’s boyfriend, not once but twice, and was selling the stolen goods as a yard sale at the home of her grandparents and was charged as an adult and now facing more charges for felony theft. Although the prosecutor and courts knew of all of this I still was forced to plea to the charge or take a chance to be proving guilty anyway and end up worst off then what I pleaded to. Myself and one other grown man life is over because of this same person who is now pregnant again for only GOD knows who. but she is consider the victim and still running around getting into trouble, and I have lost my job I work on for over 22 years. I avoided trouble all my adult life. A few problems such as a DWI when I was younger in the wrong place at the wrong time but never charged with drug or domestic problems when my girlfriend and I had during a disagreement and the police was called, but this person has been in more trouble than I ever gotten in all the years I been living. What’s wrong with this picture? I don’t know which way to turn, finding a JOB has been hard.

    • #11564 Reply
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      Ozz

      See, this is what pisses me off; the “law”makers and the blow-hard “therapists” of sex crimes have decided that people under a certain age cannot give consent so therefore they MUST be considered “victims” yet these damn teenagers are the ones doing the most criminal activity and getting into trouble and being charged as “adults” for certain crimes. Well excuse me but if a 15 yr old can be charged and convicted as an adult for committing certain crimes because the court system feels that teenager KNEW BETTER or knew RIGHT from WRONG, how then is that same teenager somehow a “victim” to the natural…pardon me….NATURAL act of SEX just because the other person was older?
      And WHY WHY WHY don’t the prosecutors and judges EVER hold the teenagers responsible for FALSELY REPRESENTING THEIR TRUE AGES???
      If I am 19 with a stolen or fake ID to get into a bar to drink, how is that the bar’s fault?
      This country has it’s priorities shoved straight up it’s own ass and it’s sickening. There should be a way to sue the teenager and his/her parents when there is PROOF that the teen LIED about his/her age. Then there should be a way to SUE for being convicted and the prosecutor and judge who pushed to convict the person should be disbarred. Period.

    • #11565 Reply
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      Michael Kuehl

      Ozz,

      Read my articles “Women as ‘Rapists’ and ‘Pedophiles’,” “‘Child Sexual Abuse” Lunacy in Wisconsin,” “Loony Wisconsin.” Google Michael Kuehl, Cassandra Sorenson-Grohall. I discuss this matter in depth and detail: the logical and empirical contradiction of prosecuting teenagers under age 18 when they commit rape and other violent felonies, and even “waiving them” into adult court in many instances, but viewing them as tantamount to prepubertal children who are too young and innocent to consent to or knowingly initiate sex when they have love affairs and dalliances with adult men and women, justifying the draconian and Orwellian punishment of adult first offenders convicted of a nonviolent and usually victimless and malum prohibitum felony.

    • #11566 Reply
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      Michael Kuehl

      And thus the adults are defined and punished, falsely and absurdly, as “rapists” and “pedophiles” and “child molesters.” Even the women are demonized as “rapists” -when, for obvious anatomical reasons, females can’t rape anyone in the pure and literal sense of the word and, moreover, the sex is factually (as opposed to legally) consensual and often if not usually initiated by the theoretical “victim.”

      In the Cassandra Sorenson-Grohall case, the “victim” harassed, molested, and raped the “sex offender.” She chose not to report the rape lest her tormentor “go to prison and become more of a delinquent” and then, foolishly acquiesced to subsequent act of intercourse with him for which she was arrested and prosecuted for “second-degree sexual assault of a child” and sentenced to 4-years in prison and all the other draconian and Orwellian punishments.

      So, incongruously, the biological man of 15 who raped her was old and mature enough to form the mens rea and criminal intent to commit sexual assault and possibly even to have been “waived into adult court,’ as her lawyer contended, if she had reported the crime.. But he was too young and immature to knowingly initiate subsequent acts of intercourse with the woman he harassed and molested and ultimately raped. He was an adult or quasi-adult when he raped his teacher but a “child” and “victim of sexual assault” when he aggressively initiated and enjoyed sex with her thereafter.

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