Recently after we broke the story about the registered sex offenders living at Hotel Belleclaire, Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal addressed the issue in an email to her constituents.
In the email, sent on July 29, Rosenthal made the following statement:
“Commissioner Banks has confirmed that all level 3 sex offenders have been moved out of the Belleclaire. And I am demanding that all remaining offenders be moved out as well.”
But when interviewed by ABC 7 on July 31, her tone seemed to change. In the interview, Rosenthal states that “this is very temporary, in the same way that we have to understand that COVID is temporary.”
As this seemed to be a bit of a departure from her initial stance, “demanding that all remaining offenders be moved out,” we followed up to ask for clarification.
We asked Helen Rosenthal’s office if she still holds her original sentiment, and if so, how specifically she’s fighting to have all remaining offenders moved out.
As a reminder, some of the victims of these Belleclaire residents were 12 years old or younger, with the youngest listed victim being just 4 years old.
Here is the statement we were provided with:
“I initially took an extreme position and stated that ‘no registered sex offenders should be allowed on the Upper West Side’– but that’s not realistic. There are around 1,600 registered offenders across Manhattan, and neighborhoods cannot wall themselves off.
“Nonetheless, I have fought hard to ensure that no registered sex offenders are staying at the temporary Lucerne Shelter. We are watching the situation at the Belleclaire very closely and have been assured that any offenders with residency restrictions have been moved out. Like every other neighborhood, we have to do everything we can to keep our residents safe, and make sure that any residents who have a history with the criminal justice system are getting the supervision and services they need.”
In addition to this statement, Helen Rosenthal sent out another email on Sunday, August 9.In the email, she states that “While I understand the anger and fear of many constituents (exacerbated by the lack of information from the City) and was initially moved to respond in very stark terms, I regret stating that the Upper West Side would not accept any more people who are homeless.”
“That being said, as a mother, a staunch feminist, and advocate for survivors– I will be hawkeyed about ensuring that laws regarding sex offenders’ residency, and proximity to schools and playgrounds, are being closely followed.”
In the August 9 email, Rosenthal also provides a breakdown of who is residing at each hotel.
She states that of the 288 residents at Hotel Belleclaire, 100 are women. The focus of this shelter is job placement assistance, and Rosenthal states that roughly one-third of the residents are currently working.
The Belnord, she states, is housing about 100 male residents, and specializes in mental health and crisis intervention programs.
Rosenthal states that The Lucerne specializes in drug addiction recovery and other mental health issues, and is currently housing about 283 male residents.
And to address to registered sex offenders living at Hotel Belleclaire, Rosenthal’s August 9 email includes the following statement:
“Those with residency restrictions (restricted by state law from living within a thousand feet of a school) have been moved out. The City made a mistake in placing any individuals with these restrictions at the Belleclaire. The Dept of Homeless Services (DHS) tells us that it was one individual.
“There are no residency restrictions on the remaining clients. We follow up with the DHS directly with our questions, as it is unclear how regularly the NYS sex offender registry is updated.”
Here is a link to the full August 9 email.