New York state's highest court has struck down a Nassau County law that prevents all sex offenders from living near schools and places of worship, ruling that the state law targeting only the most dangerous sex offenders supersedes the tougher local laws.
The decision came after a low-level sex offender named Michael Diack challenged the Nassau law.
"Most state supreme courts agree with the proposition that a local law cannot violate a state law, and state law takes precedence," said Sal Marinello, Diack's lawyer.
But child advocates like Laura Ahearn say the high court's ruling now leaves kids more vulnerable to the roughly 9,000 sex offenders on Long Island and the five boroughs.
"All of those offenders can now move wherever they want, including right next to an elementary school," she said.
But the lawyer who argued Diack's case before the Court of Appeals disagrees, saying, "There's absolutely no evidence these laws make kids safer."
"In fact, they keep people unstable and ostracized," said Kathy Manley.
Child advocates say it's now up to state lawmakers to clear up the confusion and pass legislation that will ensure children's safety.
"All our parents and families will feel a lot safer if those residency restrictions were in place," said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.