NEW YORK—Sen. Schumer was joined by Assemblyman Micah Kellner Sunday, Feb. 21, to introduce a new bill that would prevent sex offenders from holding positions like superintendent or building manager where they would have keys to many families’ apartments.
In light of the recent reports about William Barnarson, Assemblyman Kellner has introduced legislation to prevent this in New York, and Sen. Schumer plans to stop sex offenders, who often cross state lines to avoid detection, from holding keys to multifamily apartments across the country.
“This story is truly disturbing, and what’s more disturbing is to think that there are many, many more stories like this in New York and around the country,” Schumer said.
“Unfortunately it’s completely legal for a convicted sex offender to become the superintendant or a building manager in any multifamily apartment building in New York, and the jobs almost always provide the offender with keys to the renters’ apartments in the buildings. Given the large number of sexual offenders in New York—there are 6,000—this is an issue that has to be dealt with immediately.”
Barnason had served over 10 years in jail for sexually assaulting and raping girls as young as 5 years old, and while working as a superintendent of three multifamily apartment buildings, had propositioned female tenants for sexual favors in return for help with their rent.
“There is no issue more important to New York than safety and security of our children and our homes. We just can’t allow sex offenders to have unfettered access to our apartments and our homes, but that’s what William Barnason, the super for these two buildings, had,” he said.
“My legislation will ban any sex offender from working as a superintendant and having keys to New Yorkers’ apartments without their explicit permission. Which means, in effect, it won’t happen. My bill builds on the work that is being done in New York and takes it nationwide.”
Assemblyman Kellner added that sex offenders have been banned from other professions and building managers should be added to the list.
“Building workers know your schedule, your children’s names, and most importantly, when they knock on our door, we open it because they have our trust,” Kellner said. “No one should have to worry that on the other side of that door is a dangerous sex offender who literally has the keys to your apartment. It’s our responsibility to close this loophole and to make sure that no one else is put in harm’s way.”
Sen. Schumer said that not only do sex offenders often repeat their crimes after having served time for previous offenses, but also typically cross state lines, where the local law enforcement has no record of who they are.
“They can be convicted of a sex crime in Idaho, they serve 20 years in jail, they get out of jail, and then they come to New York. Because when you cross state lines neither local law enforcement nor state law enforcement knows who you are and what you’re doing,” Schumer said. “I have led the charge in Washington [D.C.] to create a national registry to make sure that even when sex offenders cross state lines that local law enforcement and local communities know that they are here so that they can take the appropriate action.”
Schumer’s legislation would hold landlords, property managers, and property maintenance companies liable and subject to substantial fines for providing the keys of the residents to a sex offender without disclosing the convictions of the offender and obtaining signed consent from the tenant.