Sex offender could go free on technicality

April 3, 2008 3:15:46 PM PDT
The man convicted of molesting a 9-year-old girl held captive on Long Island could walk free. Sal Inghilleri served 12 years for the molestation of Katie Beers.

But he's back behind bars after prosecutors say he didn't register as a sex offender. Now, due to the timing of when a law kicked in, he could be freed Monday.

Long Island reporter Lauren DeFranco has more on the story.

On Monday morning, one of the most notorious sex offenders on Long Island could walk out of a courthouse a free man. And that's because Inghilleri allegedly committed this crime six months before it was upgraded to a felony.

If Inghilleri gets his way, he will soon be walking the streets of Suffolk County.

Laura Ahearn, of Parents for Meghan's Law, calls his possible release outrageous.

"He's an individual who abused his position of trust to exploit a child in ways that many of us couldn't even imagine," she said. "He can't even register the way he's supposed to under the law."

Nearly two decades ago, he abused 9-year-old Katie Beers. He was a family friend, and kidnapped the little girl and kept her captive in a dungeon.

He served 12 years, but then last year, he was arrested again. He was charged with a felony because he left Long Island without alerting authorities.

"He was navigating about in other communities where no one knew who he was and what his past was," Ahearn said. "And we have a right, under federal and state laws, to be made aware of those individuals that pose a risk to public safety."

But here's the catch. The crime of failing to register as a sex offender was upgraded as a felony six moths after Inghilleri moved. So the judge ruled that he could only be prosecuted on a misdemeanor, which could be his ticket to freedom.

Inghilleri's lawyer, Thomas Kenniff, says his client has already served six months in jail.

"This Monday, we plan on making a renewed bail application, since the crime he is now indicted on is a misdemeanor, not a felony," he said. "That's extremely significant for the purposes of bail."

Inghilleri will likely be released on bail. The Suffolk District Attorney's Office plans to appeal the decision.