KATONAH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A New York law meant to protect children from predators is receiving renewed calls for an update after a sex offender was arrested yet again in Westchester County.
Lawmakers say the law needs to catch up to advances in social media.
TV 10/55’s Lou Young met the suspect at his parents’ home in Katonah, N.Y. shortly after his release from prison almost six years ago.
At the time, David Ohnmacht insisted he was not a threat. The convicted sex offender told CBS2 that his impulses no longer ruled him.
“I did a lot of stuff inside,” he said in November 2011. “I did a lot of work inside. The treatment program, I worked with the New York State Department of Mental Health for nine years.”
Neighbors weren’t so sure back then, and they were apparently right.
“After he got off his five years of supervised post-release probation and supervision, he immediately went back and began to engage in some of these actions,” criminal justice professor Robert Castelli, who is familiar with the case, said.
Ohnmacht is now in federal custody for trading sexually explicit messages and images with a 14-year-old girl in North Carolina. State Senator Terrence Murphy says the case underlines the need to expand Megan’s Law by not only forcing sex offenders to register, but banning level one and two offenders from social media like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.
“It makes me throw up,” Murphy says. “It makes me sick. And this is all the more reason that this needs to get passed. I don’t want to hear it from any of the assembly members, this is common sense, this is protecting our kids.”
The idea is getting a warm reception in the area, even if some wonder about its enforcement.
“I think it’s a good idea just to ban them,” Mount Kisco resident Florence Delprincipe said.
“They keep making the same offenses over and over,” Bedford Hills resident Craig Siano said. “You got to do something about it, you can’t just let it go.”
Twenty years ago, legislators were worried about physical proximity to potential victims, now it seems it’s all about the internet. The argument says keeping them off social media is like telling a convicted violent felon he can’t own a gun, although it is much tougher to police.
“It’s probably easier to catch the convicted felon with the gun than it is trying to get them when they’re on Instagram or Facebook or something like that,” Castelli said.
Investigators say Ohnmacht trolled social media using the handle “Dannyw290.” They’re in the process of looking for additional victims.
If convicted of his latest crime, Ohnmacht faces a minimum of 35-years in federal prison.