NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New York City Catholic school has hired a part-time janitor with a controversial past.
Former police officer Joseph Gray, 51, served 10 years in prison on four counts of manslaughter after being convicted of wiping out a family of four in Sunset Park, Brooklyn while he was drunk behind the wheel.
Gray was released after 10 years due to good behavior and the parish of St. Clare on Staten Island has hired him as a custodian for its school.
The controversial hearing was the talk of the community.
“No, I’m against it. I feel my child is unsafe and I’m not happy about it,” one parent told CBS 2’s John Slattery.
It was big news a decade ago. Gray was drunk after partying with fellow cops, including a stop at a strip club. He mowed down a Brooklyn family, including a pregnant mother, her son and her sister.
“I think it’s disgusting that this guy is allowed to be in school around kids,” said the father of a second grader at the school.
The school notified parents that Gray’s primary assignment is cafeteria clean-up.
“Mr. Gray shared his previous criminal history with us and his background check results were reviewed by the Archdiocesan Safe Environment Office. Under New York State law, Mr. Gray’s criminal conviction cannot be used as the basis for denying him employment as a maintenance worker,” Monsignor Richard Guastella said.
Gray’s parole conditions include that he can’t consume alcohol, must attend DWI classes, obtain employment and register for the required child protection training class.
Part of the argument for the hiring is that the Catholic Church has a tradition of forgiveness. Some parents think the hiring is right because he paid his debt to society.
“No concerns. He made a mistake, he served his time,” another parent said.
The 15-year police veteran will be on supervised release until April of 2017.
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