NBC New York
An arrest is made in the case of a sexual assault carried out by a man posing as a police officer, and police say the suspect is no stranger to crimes involving children. John Noel reports.
A Level 3 sex offender accused of sexually assaulting a Brooklyn teenager is now a suspect in a similar assault that occurred in the same subway station nearly three years ago, authorities say.
Steven Pappas, the 50-year-old convicted sex offender already being eyed for Friday's attack on a 15-year-old boy in Bay Ridge, is accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy in 2009 in almost the exact same manner.
Police said Pappas approached the boy at the 53rd and Fourth Avenue subway station, showed what looked like a gold police shield, and coaxed him out of the station and into a blue sedan.
Pappas allegedly drove the boy to 97th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway, assaulted him and then dropped him off at 87th Street and Fourth Avenue.
The boy filed a report with police after the incident, but investigators did not find the boy's story credible at the time.
When the boy's mother learned of Pappas' arrest Thursday, she contacted police and pointed out the similarities of the alleged sex assault to her own son's case three years ago.
"When he spoke to the special victims unit, when this happened in 2009, we weren't certain of his credibility," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
When asked if detectives made a mistake by dismissing the boy's report in 2009, Kelly said, "There's a fair amount of recantation that takes place as far as claims of sexual abuse. It's a sensitive, complex area.
"I think the important thing is the individual is under arrest," Kelly added.
Pappas, who is currently in police custody, was charged Thursday night for the 2009 sex assault with criminal sex act, sex abuse, criminal impersonation and endangering the welfare of a child.
In the Bay Ridge case Friday, Pappas allegedly approached a 15-year-old boy at the 53rd Street and Fourth Avenue station in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, showed a police shield and ordered the victim to go with him.
The boy followed the man to a white van and got in, police said. He drove the victim to the area of 92nd Street and Dahlgren Place in Bay Ridge, where he threatened him with a syringe, according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
The man then sexually assaulted the teenager, police said.
He then drove the victim to 38th Street and Fourth Avenue in Greenwood Heights, and dropped him off there, according to police.
Police were led to Pappas based on several tips, sources told NBC New York Thursday. One of those tips came from a detective who had arrested the man before.
Pappas was released from prison this month after a burglary case, according to state records. His sex abuse arrest was from 2000 and involved a 14-year-old, NBC New York has learned.
Pappas insisted Thursday night that police have wrongfully accused him of sexual abuse, though he did admit to impersonating a police officer.