Pedophile placed in neighborhood with children
CARMEL, N.Y. (WABC) -- There are questions about a convicted pedophile, living in a neighborhood that is swarming with children.
How did he get there?
"You do understand why people are a little fearful, you're in this neighborhood?" Eyewitness News Investigative reporter Sarah Wallace asked.
"Yes, I know they are," said Lance Smith, a convicted sex offender.
Convicted pedophile Lance Smith is listed on the state sex offender registry as a Level 3, the most likely to re-offend.
He says it's not his fault he landed in the picturesque Putnam County Town of Carmel in a multi-family house.
It's across the street from a day care center, down the block from a nursery school, around the corner from a children's learning center, and there's a school bus stop directly in front of the home where Smith now lives.
"Did you molest a child?" Wallace asked.
"I did, yes, years ago," Smith said, "It was my daughter, yes."
"And that would concern people, I mean there's a school bus going by now," Wallace said.
"Oh, I know. I go in as quick as possible. I walk around all the streets. I don't come anywhere in contact," Smith said.
He spent seven years in prison for sodomy.
Law enforcement sources say he had sex with his young daughter for years.
He was released on parole just last month and claims he was placed by authorities in this house.
"Did they not know that there was a pre-school across the street and a bus stop right here?" Wallace asked.
"Yes, they did," Smith said.
"And they still put you here. Do you still have a problem with children?" Wallace asked.
"No, I definitely don't," Smith said.
"You don't think it's a problem for you to be around them?" Wallace said.
"I know what I did. Well, I don't want to be around them, that's the whole thing," Smith said.
"Yeah, but then people are going to say maybe you should move," Wallace said.
"This is where parole placed me. I don't have a choice in where I go," Smith said.
There are other children in the multi-family house.
A neighbor and her son live next door.
"I didn't know that he was a pedophile, that it was his daughter. I didn't know any of that," said Smith's neighbor.
"How does that make you feel now?" Wallace asked.
"I was a victim of child molestation myself so it doesn't make me feel very comfortable," she said.
Carmel's police chief told Eyewitness News when he got the notification about Smith, he contacted the parole officer.
"Well, we were astounded too that he was placed in an apartment house across the street from a day care center and down the block from a pre-k kindergarten, and we expressed our reservations about this, about having a Level 3 sex offender at that location," Carmel Police Chief Michael Johnson said.
Believe it or not, New York State doesn't put restrictions on residences for sex offenders.
It's something Senator Greg Ball is proposing to change.
"Hard to believe there is no law that limits where sex offenders can live, zero," Senator Ball said, "My law is simple, it would set up a 1,000 foot buffer for schools, parks, day cares, to protect children from the worst of the worst."
In the meantime, neighbors are expressing their outrage.
Elisa Quattrucci is circulating petitions to get Smith out.
"Here's the argument: They have to live somewhere," Wallace said.
"Absolutely, and he has to live somewhere but he doesn't need to live around these children," Quattrucci said.
"Do you think it's a good idea for you to be in a place where there are so many children around? Is that tempting at all?" Wallace asked.
"No, not tempting at all. I have no interest whatsoever. I just want to continue on with my life. No," Smith said.
"Do you feel at all you're being vilified. Do you think that people are?" Wallace asked.
"No, I deserve what I get because of what I did," Smith said.
A spokesman for the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision says officials are concerned with they've learned about this case and are taking steps with social services to remedy the situation.
If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at email@example.com.
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