Senator Fuschillo, Li Realtors, Child Protection Advocate Ask: Would You Give A Sex Offender The Keys To Your Home?

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr.

October 17, 2007

State Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) today was joined by representatives of the Long Island Board of Realtors (LIBOR) and the New York State Association of Realtors (NYSAR), and the Executive Director of Parents for Megan’s Law calling for enactment of a new law to prohibit convicted sex offenders from obtaining or holding a real estate license in New York State. The proposed law would prevent dangerous sex offenders from having access to the homes of New York families.

The legislation (S. 1531), which is sponsored by Senator Fuschillo, has been approved by the Senate, but the Assembly has failed to act on it. Senator Fuschillo called on the Assembly to immediately bring the bill to the floor for a vote when the Assembly returns to Session in Albany next week.

Senator Fuschillo said, "We have to close this dangerous loophole in the law before anything happens. We cannot allow a sex offender to have unfettered access to the bedrooms and other personal spaces of women, children or any family members. When the Assembly returns to Albany next week, it should act on this important legislation that would deny a real estate license to dangerous sex predators and help protect our families."

The legislation closes a dangerous loophole in current law that prohibits felony sex offenders from obtaining a real estate license but does not cover misdemeanor sexual convictions. The bill also requires persons who already hold a real estate license in New York State to report any felony or misdemeanor sexual convictions within five days of conviction. Currently, licensed real estate agents are not required to report when they are convicted of a sex crime until the next time they seek to renew their license, which occurs every two years.

NYSAR President Max W. Gurvitch said, "Prohibiting sex offenders from obtaining a real estate license and increasing the safety of all parties in a real estate transaction is simply common sense. The people of New York State should not have to worry that their real estate salesperson or broker, who they have placed their trust in, may be a sexual predator. Sex offenders on any level represent a persistent threat to the public, and this bill closes what could be considered a loophole for violent sexual offenders.

LIBOR President Linda Bonarelli stated, "Senator Fuschillo’s legislation is critical to all New Yorkers so we can continue to protect our family members from dangerous sex offenders. This bill will eliminate any chance of a sexual predator entering our home without us knowing their history."

Laura Ahearn, Executive Director of Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center, said, "We must do everything in our power to protect our most vulnerable from sex offenders. Under current law, a homeowner who puts their home on the market could be unknowingly allowing a sex offender into their home, exposing their family to grave danger. This loophole must be closed immediately."

While current state law already forbids people convicted of a felony sex offense from being licensed as a real estate broker or salesman, those convicted of misdemeanor sex offenses are not automatically prohibited from obtaining a real estate license. Under the state penal law, misdemeanor level sex crimes include sexual misconduct, sexual abuse in the second degree, forcible touching, unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, and hate crimes.

Specifically, the proposed law (S. 1531/A.1269) would:

-Prohibit a person from obtaining a real estate broker or salesman license if he/she has been convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense (felony convictions are already a disability to licensure)

- Require anyone holding or seeking a real estate license to report a conviction of a sex offense or sexually violent offense to the real estate licensing board within five days of a court judgement.

Photo caption: Senator Fuschillo illustrates that the legalloophole allowing some sex offenders to be real estate brokers could lead to some residentsunknowigly giving the keys to their home to a registered sex offender. He is joined by (from left to right) Massapequa Realtor and LIBOR Legsilative Committee Chairperson Nick Gigante, LIBOR President Linda Bonnarelli, Parents For Megan's Law Executive Director Laura Ahearn, and NYSAR President Max Gurvitch.