Friday, November 2, 2012

NY - Dozens of New Yorkers fight to get off child-abuse registry

Original Article

This is a child abuse registry, not a sex offender registry.



Forty-one New Yorkers are going to court to try to get off a statewide child-abuse registry, saying they were denied the chance to clear their names.

The database contains hundreds of thousands of people accused in “credible” abuse and mistreatment cases — and their names can be stuck there for 10 to 28 years.

People on the list can be denied any jobs and licenses that involve working with children for many years after the original complaint was made.

Lawyer Thomas Hoffman said those fighting for expungement usually faced a “fairly benign” accusation that was not referred to family or criminal court.

The reason that you end up on the list could be anywhere from you don’t send your kids to school to corporal punishment,” Hoffman said. “But the consequence is devastating. Employers don’t know why you’re on the list. They don’t know if you’re a pedophile or you didn’t send your kids to school for a week.”

Anyone who wants to get off the registry is entitled to a hearing. Hoffman said his clients requested a hearing but never received notice one was being held.

He went to court last week to force the Office of Children and Family Services to schedule new hearings for 41 men and women across the state.

One client, [name withheld], 46, said she’s in the registry because she left her 6-year-old child with an adult nephew who tested positive for pot about 16 years ago.

This is hindering me from getting employment,” said [name withheld], who lives in Brooklyn’s Brevoort Houses and also goes by the name Empress Magdalene Menen.

I can’t work around children, I can’t have a day care center. I can’t get a job at a day care center ... It’s like saying you’re doomed for life.”

[name withheld], 65, said he wound up in the registry for disciplining two teenage nephews living with him in 2000.

When they came to New York ... they were disobedient, running around,” he said. Then the two defied him and went to a Knicks game, he said.

I spanked one with the belt and they got very upset,” he said.

He said the boys ran away and he called the police. One falsely claimed he was sexually assaulted, and both were put in foster care until they were 18, he said.

I’ve never abused any children,” said [name withheld]. “I don’t want to leave this world with this on my record.”

Hoffman said some who want hearings were accused of abuse by an estranged spouse. Others had substance-abuse problems but are long sober.

Officials could not say how many names are in the registry.

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