From: Greegor on
Why is it that Daniel J. Sullivan III of Patchogue NY
described the registry review process as so easy and so fair?

Are Florence and David of Bay Shore NY proud

Dan, If you're out there, could you explain this?

NY denied thousands accused of child abuse the chance to clear their
By John O'Brien / The Post-Standard March 22, 2010, 6:00AM

Syracuse, NY - The state Office of Children and Family Services in
2004 had a backlog of requests for hearings from people accused of
mistreating children.

Three women had recently sued the agency over the delays that were
costing them jobs working with kids because they couldn't get their
names cleared.

The agency had a solution to the thousands of pending written requests
that would come under scrutiny by the lawsuit, according to sworn
testimony from state workers: Shred.

For a month in 2004, the workers were under orders to take carts of
the requests for name-clearing hearings and shred them after hours in
their Albany offices, according to the testimony. They shredded about
a thousand a day for a month, one OCFS worker testified.

The revelation came in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit
last month that could affect 25,000 people across the state who are
listed in a statewide database as reported child abusers. Under the
settlement, anyone who requested a hearing on child abuse or
maltreatment charges but never got it regained the right to the

Employers such as day care centers check the database to see if a job
applicant was ever accused of child abuse. Those accused could request
a hearing with OCFS to clear their names. More than half of those
challenges result in the accused person being cleared, according to
Thomas Hoffman, a lawyer for the three women who sued the state over
the lengthy delays.

Those women claimed they lost opportunities for jobs working with
children because the state took up to two years to give them a name-
clearing hearing. By then, the potential employer had filled the job

Four years after the suit was filed, a whistleblower who works for
OCFS called Hoffman, he said. She told him how the agency was getting
rid of the written requests for hearings, then marking the case
"waived" or "withdrawn" on the database, court papers said. The state
never told the accused. To the inquiring employer, it would appear
that the person had given up on their request for a hearing, and the
child abuse accusation stood.

The backlog of hearing requests was much longer than two years — some
requests had been sitting around for seven years, court papers said.

The whistleblower came forward in February 2009. Hoffman then took
testimony of 18 or 19 OCFS workers about the handling of the requests
for hearings, he said.

In some cases, workers called the prospective employers with whom the
accused person had applied for a job, according to the workers’
testimony. If the employer was no longer interested, the state workers
were told to mark the file "waived," according to the testimony of six
OCFS workers. The accused person was never notified in those cases.
The written requests were shredded or thrown in the garbage, at least
three of the workers testified.

If the whistleblower hadn't come forward about the shredded cases,
Hoffman would never have known the extent of the backlog, he said.

Cathy Dufty, a clerical worker in the office, testified that
supervisor David Peters ordered her to gather a bunch of temp workers
and start shredding.

"I would go down to his office about 3:30 and I would take the cart
back, and it would be, 'These are to be shredded, and these over here
are to be refiled,'" Dufty testified last year.

Peters was then the director of the statewide Central Register of
Child Abuse and Maltreatment. He has since retired. In his deposition
for the lawsuit, Peters denied that his agency did anything improper,
Hoffman said. Peters could not be reached for comment.

The assistant state attorney general who represented the state in the
lawsuit, Robert Kraft, refused to comment. A spokeswoman for OCFS, Pat
Cantiello, said no one from the agency could comment because the
settlement has not yet been approved by a federal judge.

The whistleblower, who still works for OCFS, also would not comment.

Under the proposed settlement, the state would have to send notices to
the 25,000 people on the central register whose requests for hearings
were ignored between 2003 and 2007. U.S. District Judge Shira
Scheindlin will hold a hearing in April in Manhattan, then decide
whether to approve the settlement.

As part of the settlement, the state agreed to stop the practice of
calling potential employers to see if they still wanted to hire the
person accused of child abuse. The state agreed that the accused
person has a right to a hearing whether the employer is interested or
not, Hoffman said.

The settlement only applies to people who requested a hearing and
never got one. It doesn't affect anyone who never requested a hearing
or who withdrew his or her hearing request.

Once the settlement is approved, Hoffman will submit a bill for legal
services to the court. The state will pay those costs, but will not
pay damages under the proposed settlement. Anyone who might be
affected should check Hoffman’s Web site on the case:

The state gets about 350,000 inquiries a year from prospective
employers, including child care centers, foster care agencies,
juvenile detention centers and other employers who work with children.
The register is accessible only to employers who are required to check
a job applicant's background.

"The employer doesn't know why you’re on the list," Hoffman said. "You
could be a pedophile or it could be something benign."