Records show at least two of New York’s nine most dangerous sex offenders freed under a two-year old civil confinement law have faced arrest on sex charges again, including one who this week shot at a police officer then killed himself.
Some state lawmakers now say they’ll study the law to see if it’s too easy for threats to be returned to the streets.
The law is aimed at confining dangerous sex offenders after their release from jail.
The 30-year-old level-three sex offender shot himself in the head with a gun he had stolen from a detective in the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office hours before. The incident took place shortly before Catts was set to be charged and arraigned in the rape of a woman on Monday night.
According to the sheriff’s office, Catts allegedly pinned down a woman and raped her repeatedly in his Hyde Park motel room between the late-night hours Monday and the early-morning hours Tuesday. When the woman asked to leave, he allegedly said she could not.
Catts was registered as a level-three sex offender, according to the New York state Division of Criminal Justice Services Web site.
On Jan. 27, 2004, Catts pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault, telling Dutchess County Court Judge Thomas J. Dolan he touched a young woman and forced her to touch him in an apartment building on Main Street on Oct. 29, 2002. He was sentenced to two years in state prison and ordered to seek anti-aggression and anti-violence counseling.
His relationship to the victim was listed as “non-stranger – person in position of authority” and the force used was “immediately and physically overpowered” and “threat.”
Catts was sent to Fishkill Correctional Facility in 2004. He spent more than 500 days in jail before that, and was released twice from prison and returned for parole violations, corrections spokeswoman Linda Foglia said.
The parole violations were technical: a curfew violation and a failure to report as required, Parole Division spokeswoman Heather Groll said. Catts completed his sentence in prison and wasn’t on parole when he left in 2007, she said.
At Fishkill, he logged 27 disciplinary incidents, including fighting, harassment, smoking and an unnamed sex offense, according to corrections records. He was released in 2007 to another agency.
In 2007, New York enacted a new law that says before sex offenders are released from prison, mental health experts will assess them to determine whether they pose a risk of committing more sex offenses. A court proceeding follows to decide whether the convict is likely to commit future crimes and whether confinement or intensive post-release supervision are required.
Dutchess County Assistant District Attorney Marjorie Smith confirmed there was a civil confinement trial for Catts, which was handled by the state Attorney General’s Office. She said a jury decided against confinement in a proceeding that she recalled ended in September.