WNYT.com

Moreau hires, fires sex offender after three weeks

Posted at: 05/08/2013 11:32 PM
Updated at: 05/10/2013 6:23 PM
By: Dan Levy

Robert Roberts, 57, briefly served as a maintenance at Moreau Town Park until it was discovered that he was a registered sex offender.
Robert Roberts, 57, briefly served as a maintenance at Moreau Town Park until it was discovered that he was a registered sex offender.
Photo: WNYT

MOREAU - In a place intended for fun and games, there was an unsettling aura spreading through the Moreau Town Park Wednesday night. It was the kind of creepy feeling parents get when they find out someone potentially dangerous may have been around their children.

It's only been an issue at the Moreau Town Park for the last two or three weeks. Kids didn't know about it, parents had no idea and town officials didn't find out until this week that the man they hired for maintenance work in the park, 57-year-old Robert Roberts, is a convicted Level 2 sex offender.

"I'm glad they found out," said Joe Schrammel, watching is son play a Little League game in the park Wednesday night. "You just can't have that around these kids with the playground right here."

If town officials had checked the state's Sex Offender Registry they would have found Roberts and realized he served more than four years in state prison for the repeated violent sexual assaults against an 11-year-old girl.

Part of the problem though was that Roberts apparently lied on his job application, leading town officials to believe he had a clean criminal record.

"It's an unfortunate thing, but it's been corrected," said Town Supervisor Preston Jenkins. "'We made a mistake. Fortunately nothing bad happened. We did everything we could. We'll have to do more in the future."

The concern in the community extends beyond the town recreation department. Directly adjacent to the town park happens to be Moreau Elementary School.

Jenkins says Roberts worked just a few part-time shifts, always with a department supervisor nearby and always during the day when few people were in the park. He says there's no indication Roberts had any improper contact with children during his short tenure with the town.

Jenkins also says the matter will be discussed at next Tuesday's town board meeting and they will review their policies related to employee background checks.

Read more on this story from our media partners at The Post-Star.