Chittenango parents concerned with sex offender working next to daycare

Tuesday night, a crowded room of concerned parents asked the Chittenango Village Board to put more protections in place to guard their kids from sex offenders.

Maureen Campanie says she worries when she drops off her two-year-old daughter at daycare because a convicted sex offender works right next door to the Chittenango Child Care Center.

"To drop your child off and know a convicted sex offender is in the same building, it doesn't sit well," she said. We felt as parents it was important to come here and make a statement that this situation fell through the cracks and it's not okay."

But since convicted sex offender Timothy Johnston, of Hamilton, served his sentence and the board says since he is not on parole or probation, there are no restrictions on where he can live and work. As long as he lists both places on the sex offender registry.

Mayor Ronny Goeler says it's legal for him to be employed at Teague Accounting Xperts on Tuscarora Road, located right next to the daycare center.

"We all have rights, even people who have been convicted have rights," said Mayor Goeler.

According to the sex offender registry, Johnston was convicted in 1997 of molesting a five-year-old. He is listed as a level 2 sex offender, which authorities say means he has a moderate risk of reoffending.

The village board says passing a local law creating a so-called "child safety zone", which would place limits on where sex offenders could live and work would be unconstitutional.

Goeler says New York counties,

including Albany

, have had a similar law challenged and lost in court. He adds it is bad precedent to pass a law that cannot be enforced. In the Albany County case, the judge declared it invalid because it's preempted by state statue.

"I could pass a law to make them feel safer, but in reality they are no safer than they are right now," said Mayor Goeler. "You should not pass a law that can be unconstitutional."

But parents say their fight doesn't end here. "Something needs to be done to change that law."

The next step is to lobby state lawmakers, to pass a stricter New York law on how close sex offenders can live and work near children.

What do you think of the current sex offender law? Should there be more protections for children?