A building super in Manhattan convicted of three rapes of children has gotten a job as a building super. He has the keys to all the apartments in the buildings in which he works. Additionally, he has the job of going door to door to collect rent. The tenants are fearful and furious. The guy is a level three sex offender. That means he is considered to be at high risk of offending again.
How has he been doing? Not to well. Some women in the building have complained that William Barnason, 57 has propositioned them when they are behind on the rent. The New York Post reports as follows.
Engle, 43, said that in May 2007, Barnason threatened to keep her $2,000 deposit if she didn't pay another $1,000 for the first month's rent -- even after Katz had agreed to let her move in mid-month. Then, she said, he made a salacious offer.
"He said, 'If we were friends, I could help you out, and I could pay,' " Engle recalled.
"I said, 'You mean if I had sex with you? That's what you're trying to say?' And he said, 'Yes and . . . not just once. I'd come over a couple of times a week, and I could help you out.' "
She angrily refused, and Katz let her move in. Engle later stopped paying rent because she said she was being overcharged and is about to be evicted.
Another female tenant, who in Manhattan Housing Court filings has cited Barnason's criminal past and current alleged harassment in an effort to avoid eviction in a rent dispute, said she would not have moved in had she known his status.
"Multiple times, he said, 'If you want to hook up once or twice a week, I can pay your rent, and I can get you a bigger apartment,' " recalled the 22-year-old, who requested anonymity. "I said, F- - - off.' "
Allowing sex offenders and other violent individuals to work in a job where they have the keys to apartments is beyond stupid. I have heard less dramatic stories of people with questionable backgrounds who were hired as building supers. The danger they presented mostly involved the criminal elements they brought into the buildings they worked in. Some of this spilled over into theft from storage areas. Many New Yorkers would welcome a criminal background check on building supers. William Barnason's boss, the landlord of three buildings in which Barnason works clearly does not care about his tenants. For people like that, you need laws barring them from hiring dangerous sexual predators. Such a law should be passed as soon as possible in New York and elsewhere.
The United States has deserts and islands with deadly currents around them. Perhaps sexual predators could be settled in towns in such areas with controlled access, preferably on islands with no bridge access. If they would agree to live in such towns, employed in safe occupations, perhaps they could live under parole supervision and away from those they might be tempted to harm. This would keep society safe and would enable ex offenders to live in a somewhat controlled yet normal environment. This might sidestep a lot of the legal battles surrounding sex offenders who remain at risk of reoffending after finishing their sentences. The best thing would be if sentences for sex offenses against children reflected public abhorrence of such crimes. Until this happens, we need to write common sense into law as soon as possible. This will protect tenants from people like William Barnason and landlords like Stanley Katz who just don't give a damn about their tenants.
Update: from dnainfo 2/2/10
"Assemblyman Micah Kellner (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill that would ban level two and level three sex offenders — those at a moderate to high risk of repeating their crimes — from serving as superintendents or building managers."
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