A Queens family found out the hard way that justice is not always served in under an hour like a "Law and Order" episode when they tried to get a sexual predator off the streets.
Ricardo and Renee Victoria say their 16-year-old daughter who ran away from home in March was taken advantage of by a 38-year-old man, a convicted, Level-three sex offender. Because he has not been charged for this crime, we are not revealing his name or his face, but the Victorias say authorities have not brought him to justice.
Weeks went by after they filed missing persons report with the NYPD so the Victorias decided to conduct their own search. They canvassed their neighborhood, spoke to store owners, contacted their daughter’s classmates and soon they discovered that she had been seen on several occasions with a convicted sex offender.
"She was seen at a bar on Hillside Avenue with him and someone told me she looked like a zombie,” said Renee Victoria. “He was pimping her out at a place where he was trying to get his taxes done and the manager said we don't operate like that."
But they still could not find her. So they sought the help of Joe Mazzilli, a private investigator and former NYPD detective. With his help, they discovered in late April, the man had been arrested on drug charges. The Victorias went to his arraignment to seek the help of prosecutors.
“I attempted to get the district attorney to communicate to them the situation that was happening with my daughter,” said Ricardo Victoria. “I wanted to find her and I had hoped that more charges would be filed and he would be held and not released."
Ricardo said he told prosecutors the man was in violation of sex offender laws because he had been alone with an underage girl and he did not live at the address where he told police he resided according to the Sex Offender Registry. The Victorias said the prosecutor with whom they spoke told them that he would look into it.
While the man was still in jail, awaiting sentencing, the Victorias found their daughter, 48 days after she had gone missing. It was their daughter’s friend who spotted her at a fast food restaurant and called them.
The Victorias said they have not been able to file charges against the man because their daughter, traumatized by her experience, has not been able to give police a statement. But they had hoped that by telling authorities he was in violation of Sex Offender Registry laws, that would have been enough.
The Victorias recorded a phone conversation between Ricardo and the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the man’s case. In the conversation, the prosecutor tells the Victorias that unless the New York City Police department makes an arrest, there is nothing the district attorney’s office can do.
A spokesman for the Queens District Attorney said they advised the Victoria family to follow proper procedure and file a police report. The Victorias say they went to their local precinct and tried to report the Sex Offender Registry violation but were redirected back to the district attorney’s office. They think prosecutors missed an opportunity to take a sexual predator off the streets.
“He's a predator, he could be out there finding another victim," said Renee Victoria.
After New 4 New York began to investigate the Victorias’ claims, the man was arrested for failing to let police know his change of address. He is being held on 2000 dollars bail.
Assemblyman William Scarborough who is helping the Victoria family, says he is demanding a full investigation from the Queens District Attorney.
"The bigger concern for me is this was a dangerous and unrepentant sexual predator,” said Scarborough. “And he was released back on the streets in my community and that is just horrifying."
A spokesman for the Queens District Attorney’s office said they are proud to lead the city in the number of convictions for promoting prostitution and they lead the state in the number of arrests for promoting prostitution.
The group Parents for Megan’s Law said they have a place on their website where you can report sex offender registry law violations. This can help you navigate bureaucracy and forward your information to the appropriate agencies.