Behind closed doors

Debra Flax

After his 2001 release, registered sex offender and child rapist William Barnason, 57, was hired as superintendent and rent collector for three apartment complexes in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Yeah, ok. That isn’t a bad idea at all.

Not only does this scum of the earth live in one of the complexes, but he also holds the key to more than 50 apartments within each building.

Naturally, a resident wants to and should know whether a sex offender lives in their neighborhood so, if need be, they can be aware and on guard for themselves and their children. But these poor people, however, can’t even lock their doors and feel safe.

They have to be concerned about being propositioned if they can’t make their rent, which is what happened to Carol Engle. According to Engle, Barnason told her that she owed an additional $1,000 on her rent, but that he’d take care of it if she agreed to be his “special friend” multiple times during the week.

Of course, Engle contacted the landlord and was told that he didn’t believe Barnason would do anything like that despite the similar complaints he already received.

Barnason served more than 14 years in prison for his repulsive attacks on three Long Island girls between the ages of 5 and 7 and for the separate molestation of a female victim over the age of 17.

The level 3 sex offender had also already been in jail for the abuse of a 5-year-old girl when he pleaded guilty to the Long Island attacks, which he allegedly made other children watch.

Now, he has the key to the buildings, to each individual apartment, to every part of these people’s lives, including those of his favorite brand of victim: kids.

The landlord, Stanley Katz, claims that he had no idea about Barnason’s glaring, multi-red flagged, over-packed criminal history. On top of that, Katz’s lawyer has stated that the man has no intention of dismissing Barnason.

First off, what kind of employer, let alone an employer looking over other people’s lives, doesn’t do a background check of the people he hires?

Secondly, how is he not going to get rid of the fool?

I mean, this guy seriously won’t be convinced of the danger until the properties under his landlordship become the yellow-taped locations of historically notorious crime scenes.

With the exception of being thoroughly repulsed by Barnason as the terrible human thing he is, I think I’m most disgusted with the man who can sleep at night knowing he hired a truly dangerous man for a very delicate job.

This is like asking Charles Manson to be a high school guidance counselor.

And, if this doesn’t morally bother Katz, is he not concerned about this coming back to legally bite him in the butt?

For the most part, the blog reaction to this story was the same. “What a dirt bag,” and, “How are these men still breathing?” were common phrases tossed around.

However, there were those that treated the situation as a joke, with one commenter writing, “Well, at least he’s asking this time.”

New York Assemblyman Micah Kellner is in the process of introducing a bill with the hopes of prohibiting a property owner from hiring a superintendent or resident manager who is a registered level two or three sex offender.

Whatever the outcome though, it’s a shame that a seemingly common sense issue like this even has to be fought in the first place.

Debra Flax is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column runs on Thursdays.