CLIFTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Nathaniel Lewis is a 37-year-old registered sex offender in the state of Virginia that somehow ended up working near children in Clifton, flying under the radar for more than a year.
“I’m appalled that that happened,” parent Lisa Funk told CBS2’s Reena Roy on Monday. “This is a concern within our community for all of our children, so it’s upsetting for all of us.”
City officials say Lewis was a facility manager for the recreation department, responsible for maintaining roughly 40 locations where various kids programs are held.
“That’s scary, yeah, especially (since) I have a daughter. That’s very scary,” parent Steve Mao said.
Lewis was able to hide that big secret, until a routine traffic stop last week when New Jersey cops realized he was wanted by Virginia police for not alerting authorities he had moved, and for not registering as a sex offender here.
Virginia state records show he was convicted back in 2009 for taking indecent liberties with children.
“Something needs to be done. So many people under his authority. It’s a shame something like that could happen in this town,” Clifton resident Thomas Fiorentino said.
“There are a lot of questions that clearly need to be asked that are unanswered,” Funk added.
So CBS2’s Roy went straight to the department supervisor, who told her he was “not in a position to” talk about Lewis.
Roy also tried to talk to the Clifton city manager, but neither would speak on camera, saying only that the Clifton Police Department and Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office are leading the investigation.
Instead, the city manager sent CBS2 a statement saying, in part, “Mr. Lewis falsified his employment application with the city of Clifton,” and that he was cleared by a state background check. In addition, Lewis was fired immediately after his arrest.
“It’s absolutely awful. We gotta do a lot more to make sure people are checked out,” Fiorentino added.
Lewis is facing one count of failing to register as a sex offender and another count of unlawfully obtaining employment in a youth-serving organization. He is expected to be arraigned in court Tuesday morning.
Both third-degree charges carry a maximum term of five years in the New Jersey State Prison.