Lee Jackson and Lonzel McNeil: Pedophiles in NY homeless shelter near school spark outrage
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK: City officials reportedly put up five registered sex offenders, including two convicted pedophiles, into a homeless shelter surrounded by schools in Manhattan’s Financial District. As per reports, this is the second time the Department of Homeless Services has been accused of this.
Last year, when the coronavirus pandemic swept through New York City, officials started filling boutique hotels in Manhattan's Upper West Side with homeless individuals, in an effort to reduce the virus spreading through the streets and cramped shelters. These individuals included more than a dozen convicted sex offenders. Some were reportedly given rooms in hotels a block from a school playground.
As per a new report in The New York Post, the former Radisson Hotel at 52 William St, which was turned into a temporary shelter in March 2020, as of Thursday, October 21, still had four of the men still -- the state’s official sex-offender registry listed the location. This is reportedly just two blocks from the landmark New York Stock Exchange building.
“As parents, we cannot count on local government to look out for our children,” one mother told the Post. “I am not opposed to helping those in need and providing shelters for the homeless in my community, but I am against placing violent pedophiles with a block of schools.”
Opposition from community members who learned about convicted sex offenders there earlier this month reportedly forced them to be relocated recently.
Emails obtained by The Post showed that DHS said it had “resolved” the “placement issues at this site.” But as per online records, ex-cons who list the shelter as their address include Lee Jackson, 42, a Level 3 sexually violent offender, who was sentenced to ten years in prison for sexually assaulting a seven-year-old girl in Brooklyn in 2005. Jackson, who was paroled in 2016, was also convicted of manslaughter.
Lonzel McNeil, 53, also a resident in the shelter, which is less than a block from the private Pine Street School for pre-K and elementary students, was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl in Brooklyn in 1993 and was paroled in 2000. State law prohibits Level 3 sex offenders and those whose crimes involved minors from living within 1,000 feet of a school, but only while they remain on parole. Reportedly, neither Jackson nor McNeil still is on parole.
A mother whose two three-year-old and five-year-old attend the Pine Street School said officials there filed a complaint that helped get the men booted. “It’s scary,” she said. “Families no longer feel safe. We don’t feel our kids are safe…I used to take nightly walks, 10 to 11 p.m. I no longer leave my house alone at night.”
A homeless resident of the Radisson was upset to learn he’d been sharing the place with convicted pedophiles. “If you got kids you should feel the same way. There are certain things you just don’t do,” said Don Parker, 52.
DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn said in a statement that the agency places people in shelters “in accordance with State law, based on the information available to us via State databases -- which are not updated live or in real-time.” He added, “While we cannot discuss any specific cases or disclose confidential case histories, which would violate NYS Social Services Law, at this time there are no [registered sex offenders] currently residing at this location.”