October 23, 2021
Manhattan parents were outraged when they learned that city officials stuck five registered sex offenders, including two convicted pedophiles, into a homeless shelter last year about a block away from an elementary school.
City officials placed registered sex offenders Thomas Libby, Lonzel McNeil, Lee Jackson, Francis Harrison and Curtis Thompson in the Radisson Hotel at 52 William St. in 2020 amid the pandemic.
The shelter is a one-minute walk away from the $36,000-a-year Pine Street Elementary School, in Manhattan’s Financial District, and both McNeil and Jackson have history of sex offense crimes involving minor.
‘I am not opposed to helping those in need and providing shelters for the homeless in my community, but I am against placing violent pedophiles with a block of schools,’ one local mother told the New York Post.
The city’s Department of Homeless Services said in a statement that the issue had been corrected and that ‘at this time there are no [registered sex offenders] currently residing at this location.’
Online records show that McNeil, 53, had been convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl in Brooklyn in 1993 and was paroled in 2000.
Jackson, 42, is a Level 3 sexually violent offender, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in Brooklyn in 2005.
Jackson, who was paroled in 2016, was also convicted of manslaughter.
Neither men are on parole, so they could bypass New York State laws prohibiting sex offenders from living 1,000 feet from a school or other facility caring for children while on parole or probation.
The Radisson is not only located a block away from the Pine Street School, but it also stands 500 feet from two other schools and a daycare center.
The two men, along with the other three sex offenders, were moved into the Radisson Hotel in late 2020 as the city set up an emergency homeless shelters there due to the pandemic. It was later turned into a permanent shelter, The New York Times reported.
This was the second such case where the city’s Department of Homeless Services place sex offenders near a school.
In August 2020, the department used the Belleclaire hotel in the Upper West Side to house at least six sex offenders on parole despite the fact that it was just a block away from an elementary school playground.
Since the sex offenders were on parole, the housing location would be illegal under New York State law.
Don Parker, 52, a homeless man living in the Radisson, told the NY Post that while residents were thankful for the housing opportunity, he was upset to learn that he had been living with convicted pedophiles.
‘If you got kids you should feel the same way. There are certain things you just don’t do,’ Parker said.