PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF ASSEMBLYMAN KEN ZEBROWSKI (D-New City)
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski (D-New City) has announced legislation that would increase penalties for public lewdness offenses (A.8270). This legislation is in response the troubling incidents at the Palisades Mall where individuals have exposed themselves in a disturbing manner to children. The bill will create tougher penalties for those that engage in these acts, as well as provides grounds for sex offender registration. Currently, petty larceny (class A misdemeanor) is a more serious crime, and has tougher consequences than public lewdness (class B misdemeanor).
“These unsettling incidents highlight a weakness in our laws where horrendous crimes are treated with minor consequences,” Zebrowski said.
The bill would amend the penal law by creating three levels of public lewdness with increasing severity. The current public lewdness law carries a penalty of a class B misdemeanor, with no requirement to register under the Sexual Offender Registry. Assemblyman Zebrowski’s legislation would create two new crimes of public lewdness that include “intent of sexual gratification” which will carry harsher penalties. The first degree offense will cover repeat offenders and offenses whose victims are under the age of 14. Public lewdness in the first degree will be a class E felony and will require offenders to register as sex offenders.
The Clarkstown Police Department brought specific cases to the Assemblyman’s attention and suggested changes to the law.
“The Clarkstown Police Department has investigated numerous public lewdness incidents at the Palisades Mall over the past few years. In the past 6 months alone, the department has arrested two individuals who perpetrated this offense numerous times. As the public lewdness law stands now, it is a more serious crime to steal a soda from a grocery store than it is to expose yourself to a child,” said Detective John Fredericks, Clarkstown Police Department.
Locally, there have been a number of these kinds of crimes with a lack of applicable offenses. This bill would provide clarity and tougher punishment for perpetrators, as well as act as a form of prevention. Studies have shown that these offenders have the highest rate of recidivism. Perpetrators of public lewdness are more likely to go on to commit even more serious sex offenses, graduating to sexual contact, touching, or assault.
“This legislation will ensure that there is parity between the severity of the crimes that these offenders commit and their punishment. We must ensure tougher penalties to protect the public, and especially, our children,” continued Zebrowski.