Parents catch sex offender working at Queens school

January 19, 2011 2:40:04 PM PST
Parents are taking action after learning a convicted child sex offender was working with their children in Queens.

He was a volunteer at the school, and he was there because of a loophole. A loophole that parents want closed.

The children attend St. Mel School in Flushing, Queens.

24-year-old Joseph Denice was a volunteer religious instructor, but was let go last week-after a parent allegedly reported him for contacting a child on Facebook, a violation of school rules.

His conviction for sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy last year also came to light.

"It was because of that that the parents found out about him and brought it to the attention of the people that needed to know," said Angela.

St. Mel's is under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Brooklyn, which released a statement commending the parents who monitored their children's social networking and spoke out.

In part the statement read, "The courage of these parents has furthered the safety and security of all children in Flushing and Whitestone."

While the diocese didn't comment on its own background check of Denice, some parents are raising questions about the absence of level one sex offenders, like Denice, on the registry website.

'I think you should be able to see level 1, 2 or 3. I think you should be able to see all the names," said Jeanine Brady.

One Queens lawmaker has in fact introduced three pieces of legislation he believes would close the loopholes that allowed a convicted sex offender access at St. Mel's.

"It gives us a sense of protection for our children and give parents a sense of peace of mind that their child is safe," said Assemblyman Mike Miller.

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