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Rape

Brian Dreher was arrested for having a relationship with a 16-year-old girl who was a student of his at Walt Whitman High Shool. Photo from SCPD.

Suffolk County Police arrested a Walt Whitman High School teacher Friday, May 26 who allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with one of his students in Huntington Station.

Special Victims Section detectives began an investigation into the conduct of a Walt Whitman High School teacher and discovered said he was having an inappropriate relationship with one of his 16-year-old female students. Detectives arrested Brian Dreher, 41, of East 17th St., Huntington Station, at his home at approximately 7:25 a.m.

Dreher, who teaches social studies at the school, located on West Hills Road in Huntington Station, was charged with third-degree rape, third-degree criminal sexual act and endangering the welfare of a child.

Detectives are asking anyone with information to contact Special Victims at 631-852-6531.

Dreher will be held at the Seventh Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip today. Attorney information on Dreher was not immediately available.

Francis Barrios mugshot from SCPD

A rapist was recently sentenced to 24 years in prison for an assault on a taxi driver this past winter.

Francis Barrios, 34, already a registered sex offender, pleaded guilty in March to raping the female driver after she picked him up one evening at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson.

During the Dec. 1 ride, authorities said, he beat and strangled her, causing the cab to crash into a fence on Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai. Then he sexually assaulted her, pulling her into the back seat and raping her.

Officers responded to the scene after a passing motorist called 911.

The Suffolk County Police Department has not identified the taxi company that the victim worked for, to protect her identity.

Police first identified Barrios as homeless, but the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office has since said he is from Middle Island. He has also been identified by the names Francis Berrios and Francisco Barrios.

The offender pleaded guilty to first-degree rape in late March, and was then sentenced in late April to 24 years incarceration, as well as 20 years of post-release supervision.

Barrios was previously convicted as a violent offender in Suffolk County, for first-degree attempted rape. According to the New York State sex offender registry, where he is listed as a Level 3 sexually violent offender, Barrios was convicted in November 2004 for sexual contact with a 12-year-old girl, who was described as a “non-stranger” to him. He was sentenced to 42 months in state prison for that crime.

Francis Barrios mugshot from SCPD

A registered sex offender pleaded guilty on Monday to raping a female taxi driver in December during a trip that started in Port Jefferson.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said on Tuesday that 34-year-old Francis Barrios, of Middle Island, pleaded guilty to first-degree rape.

When the incident first occurred, on Dec. 1, authorities said the driver had picked up Barrios at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital that evening. During the trip he beat and strangled her, causing the taxi to crash into a fence on Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai. Barrios, who police said was homeless, then sexually assaulted the victim.

According to the DA’s office, he pulled her into the back seat and raped her.

Officers responded to the crash scene after a passing motorist called 911, police said at the time.

Police did not release the name of the taxi company, to protect the identity of the victim.

The DA’s office said Barrios was previously convicted as a violent offender in Suffolk County for first-degree attempted rape, and violated his parole. He was expected to be sentenced to 24 years in prison and 20 years of post-release supervision on April 20.

On the New York State sex offender registry, Barrios is listed as a Level 3 sexually violent offender who has also gone by the last name Berrios. He was convicted in November 2004 in relation to an incident of sexual contact earlier that year involving a 12-year-old girl, who was described as a “non-stranger” to Barrios. He was sentenced to 42 months in state prison.

By Elana Glowatz

Suffolk County is entering obscure territory this year as some sex offenders drop off the state registry and others have lost restrictions on where they can live.

Laura Ahearn has advocated for local governments to have the power to regulate where registered sex offenders live. File photo
Laura Ahearn has advocated for local governments to have the power to regulate where registered sex offenders live. File photo

It was exactly one year ago that the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that local laws restricting where sex offenders could live were invalid, following a lawsuit from a registered offender from Nassau County who challenged his own government’s rule that prohibited him from living within 1,000 feet from a school. Judge Eugene Pigott Jr. wrote in his decision that “a local government’s police power is not absolute” and is pre-empted by state law.

State regulations already prohibit certain sex offenders who are on parole or probation from living within 1,000 feet of a school or other child care facility, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, but the local laws went further. In Suffolk County, Chapter 745 made it illegal for all registered sex offenders — not just those on parole or probation — to live within a quarter mile of schools, day care centers, playgrounds or their victims. But following Pigott’s decision, that law, while still technically on the books, is no longer enforceable.

To make matters more complicated, Jan. 1 marked the beginning of the end for some of the lowest level sex offenders on the state registry.

Offenders are grouped into one of three levels based on their perceived risk of committing another sex crime. On the lowest rung, Level 1 offenders who have not received special designations for being violent, being repeat offenders or having a “mental abnormality or personality disorder” that makes the person “likely to engage in predatory sexually violent offenses,” according to the Division of Criminal Justice Services, are only included on the registry for 20 years from their conviction. The New York State correction law enacting that system has just turned 20 years old, meaning the earliest offenders added to the registry are beginning to drop off.

The Sex Offender Registration Act obligates Level 2 and Level 3 offenders, as well as those with the additional designations, to remain on the registry for life, although there is a provision under which certain Level 2 offenders can appeal to be removed after a period of 30 years.

At a recent civic association meeting in Port Jefferson Station, Laura Ahearn from the advocacy group Parents for Megan’s Law — which raises awareness about sex crime issues and monitors offenders — gave examples of offenders set to come off the registry this year, including a man who raped a 4-year-old girl, and another who raped and sodomized a woman.

But it doesn’t stop there.

“It is thousands over time that are going to drop off,” Ahearn said.

A database search of Level 1 offenders along the North Shore of Suffolk County turned up many offenders who had been convicted of statutory rape or possession of child pornography, and who had served little to no time in jail. However, there were more serious offenses as well.

“You know when an adult man or an adult woman rapes a 4-year-old, that is just shocking. That [should be] a lifetime registration.”
— Laura Ahearn

Some of the undesignated Level 1 offenders who were convicted shortly after the Sex Offender Registration Act was created include a Smithtown man, now 43, convicted of first-degree sexual abuse against a 19-year-old; a 61-year-old Rocky Point man who sexually abused a 12-year-old girl more than once; a Huntington man, now 40, who sexually abused an 11-year-old; and a Rocky Point man convicted of incest with a 17-year-old.

Ahearn’s group has argued that sex offenders are more likely to reoffend as time goes on. According to Parents for Megan’s Law, recidivism rates are estimated to be 14 percent after five years and 27 percent after 20 years.

One midnight in January, Suffolk County police arrested a 48-year-old man, later discovered to be a registered Level 1 sex offender, in Fort Salonga after the suspect was allegedly caught undressed inside a vehicle with a 14-year-old boy. Police reported at the time that the two arranged the meeting over a cellphone application and there had been sexual contact.

The man had been convicted of sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old girl in 2003 and was sentenced to six years of probation. His new charges included criminal sex act and endangering the welfare of a child.

“So it makes no sense logically” to let Level 1 offenders drop off the registry after 20 years, Ahearn said in Port Jefferson Station. She has advocated for the terms to be extended or to have offenders appeal to be removed from the registry, like Level 2 offenders can after 30 years, so it can be decided on a case-by-case basis.

It’s a “you-know-it-when-you-see-it kind of thing, because you know when an adult man or an adult woman rapes a 4-year-old, that is just shocking,” she said. “That [should be] a lifetime registration.”

Even if the offenders remain on the registry, the court ruling that struck down restrictions on where most offenders can live has made matters trickier.

Ahearn said the fact that multiple layers of local government had enacted restrictions contributed to the situation.

“What happened is it got out of control,” she said.

County and town laws previously restricted sex offenders from living near schools and playgrounds. File photo
County and town laws previously restricted sex offenders from living near schools and playgrounds. File photo

Below the Suffolk County level, for example, the Town of Brookhaven had its own restrictions that prohibited offenders from living within a quarter mile of schools, playgrounds or parks.

There are bills floating around the state government that would tighten restrictions on where certain sex offenders could live, but the only one that has gained traction is a bill state Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) sponsored, along with state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), that would return to local governments the power to regulate where offenders can reside.

“Local laws designed to protect children against registered sex offenders are enacted in response to unique conditions and concerns of specific communities and should act in complement with existing state law,” the bill’s summary read.

Although the bill passed the Senate last year, it died in the Assembly. But Venditto reintroduced his proposal this year.

For more information about sex offender laws or to search for sex offenders in a specific neighborhood, visit the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services at www.criminaljustice.ny.gov or the Parents for Megan’s Law group at www.parentsformeganslaw.org.

Francis Barrios mugshot from SCPD

Police arrested a homeless man for sexual assault on Tuesday night, after he allegedly attacked a taxi driver on a trip that started at a local hospital.

The Suffolk County Police Department said that the female cab driver picked up her passenger at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson that evening, but during the trip he assaulted her and the taxi crashed into a fence on Mount Sinai-Coram Road in Mount Sinai. The suspect, 34-year-old registered sex offender Francis Barrios, then sexually assaulted the driver.

Police did not release the name of the taxi company, to protect the identity of the victim.

Officers had initially responded to the crash scene when a passing motorist called 911, according to police, but the responders arrested Barrios after further investigation. He was charged with first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree attempted rape, second-degree strangulation and third-degree assault.

Attorney information for Barrios was not immediately available and he could not be reached for comment. He was held overnight and scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.

District Attorney Tom Spota speaks at a press conference about Patrick O'Sullivan, who was convicted of raping a woman in Stony Brook in 2012. File photo by Michael Ruiz

The East Moriches man convicted of raping and sodomizing a woman in Stony Brook was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday at Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead, the district attorney said.

Patrick O’Sullivan has been convicted of raping a woman while she was housesitting in Stony Brook in 2012. Photo from Robert Clifford
Patrick O’Sullivan has been convicted of raping a woman while she was housesitting in Stony Brook in 2012. Photo from Robert Clifford

Patrick O’Sullivan, 23, pleaded guilty to charges of rape, criminal sexual act, burglary, sexual abuse and conspiracy in relation to the Nov. 20, 2012, incident, at a residence where his victim was house-sitting. Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said the man wore a mask and carried a loaded rifle when he entered the house through an unlocked door. He fired his weapon twice and sexually assaulted the victim after restraining her with duct tape.

While in custody at the county jail following his arrest, O’Sullivan was also charged with conspiracy after prosecutors said he tried to hire a hit man to kill the victim and another person he believed would testify against him, Spota said. The plot was foiled when the man he tried to hire notified the police.

The conspiracy charge alone landed O’Sullivan a concurrent prison term of up to 25 years, Spota said.

O’Sullivan appeared before Judge Barbara Kahn in county court Thursday morning for sentencing.

At the sentencing, he apologized to the victim, who also provided a statement. He said he hoped she could one day forgive him, a spokesman for Spota said.

In a moving testimony, the woman, who is not being identified because she is the victim of a sex crime, relived the horrific experience and the subsequent days before an arrest was made.

“For over an hour that night I was terrorized, tormented and violated. He showed me bullets and told me I shouldn’t make him use them,” she said in court Tuesday. “He left me in a house tied up, naked, violated, broken and alone. It was 10 days before an arrest was made, 10 days when I couldn’t bring myself to walk outside my house. It was eight months before I could return to work.”

The victim called her attacker a sociopath who made the conscious decision to commit “purely evil acts” of violence against her and said the memories of her attack will always be with her.

“There aren’t words to accurately describe the sheer panic, terror and fear when someone walks into a room and they are dressed in all black, wearing a ski mask and pointing a rifle directly at your head,” she said. “It is a moment that never leaves you. It is a moment in time that changes you forever.”

O’Sullivan waived his right to appeal in February and a permanent order of protection was issued for the victim, the district attorney said.