BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
A registered sex offender is living at the already-controversial Pan Am Shelter in Elmhurst, the Queens Tribune has learned.
A recent update to the Division of Criminal Justice Services website states that a 47-year-old, level 3 sex offender, Dwayne Clark, is living at 79-00 Queens Blvd., which is the address to the approximately 200-bed, 600-resident, family shelter.
The office of state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) contacted the Pan Am Shelter and according to Stavisky, they refused to confirm Clark’s residential status at the shelter.
“This is outrageous,” Stavisky told the Queens Tribune. “This man is a lifetime registered sex offender that immediately and physically overpowered children. This is not a socially responsible individual due to the likelihood that this crime can be committed again.”
According to the DCJS website, Clark sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl and two 13-year-old girls in 1993. The crime was described as sexual abuse to the first degree, with contact by forcible compulsion. He was convicted in 1995 with a 30-month to 5 year state prison sentence.
Stavisky is outraged that the Department of Homeless Services would allow this man to be put into a family shelter that is home to primarily mothers and fathers with children.
“It’s mind-boggling,” Stavisky said. “DHS and the city have to reexamine the policy to assign people to shelters. The fact that they would allow a level 3 sex offender to live in a family shelter only goes to show that they did not conduct a background check.”
In a statement Stavisky released on Tuesday, she said that DHS is supposed to have protocols in place to prevent things like this from happening and that there needs to be a serious overhaul of the vetting system.
“I have tried, for years now, to work with the City to improve conditions at the Pan Am Shelter, but clearly there are more issues than were originally reported,” Stavisky said. “I call on DHS and Samaritan Village to remove this individual immediately, if they have not already done so. The well-being and safety of the children in the shelter and surrounding community is at stake.”
DHS’ Senior Advisor for Communications, Lauren Gray, responded by stating that there are no sex offenders at the Pan Am Shelter.
“We are legally obligated to provide shelter to any New Yorker, regardless of background, who would otherwise be turned out onto the streets,” Gray said. “All placements we make are in compliance with state law, and we can confirm that there is no one residing at this location who is in the registry.”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org