Bello orders probation changes in response to sexual assault case
After a registered sex offender was accused of committing a sexual assault at his workplace in March, Monroe County is changing some of its supervision policies.
Probation officers will now check on convicted sex offenders at their workplaces more often under an order issued Thursday by County Executive Adam Bello.
The order also directs the department to immediately conduct cross-training for all probation officers who supervise designated sex offenders and probationers who fall under other unspecified special areas, Bello said during a news conference.
Bello said he issued the order after the conclusion of two inavestigations into the Department of Probation and Community Supervision’s sex offender unit. The investigations and order stem from the March 19 assault and rape that occurred in a market on Central Park, within a block of School 25.
“There is no excuse for what happened,” Bello said Thursday.
During the March 19 incident, two men allegedly locked a female minor in the store where they worked and sexually assaulted her, according to the Rochester Police Department. One of the men, 20-year-old Shadad Alghaithy, was charged with first-degree rape and several other counts and was found to be a registered Level 2 sex offender. He was convicted in Ontario County in 2021 on a charge of first-degree disseminating indecent material to a minor.
At the time of the March incident, Alghaithy was under the supervision of Monroe County’s probation department and was legally prohibited from working within 1,000 feet of a school. According to one investigation report, probation officers regularly checked on Alghaithy and noted the visits in their department’s systems. In late February, an officer visited Alghaithy at the store and noted that he was working there. The officer did not mention the nearby school.
The officer who’d been assigned the case was not from the probation department’s sex offender unit. Bello blamed the oversight on insufficient training, which is why he ordered the probation department to cross-train some officers on the requirements that probationers under supervision for certain offenses must follow.
Bello said that he asked for and received the resignation of the chief probation director.
Sabrina LaMar, president of the Monroe County Legislature, wrote to the Bello administration on March 23 asking for an explanation of how a registered sex offender was able to work so close to a school. In a statement Thursday she thanked Bello for his response and said the review was long overdue and "reform was sorely needed."
"It is my hope that these reforms, coupled with new leadership in the Probation Department, will ensure that the incident which occurred on March 19th will never happen again," read LaMar's statement. "We must keep our children safe from sex offenders.”
The county has also reviewed the files of 239 probationers under its supervision. It found that all complied when it came to the subjects’ residences, but that the process for verifying their workplaces left gaps. The probation department has started verifying the workplaces of everyone under its supervision, said Richard Tantalo, the county’s public safety director.
“We are continuing to work through that because in many instances, individuals change employment. We sometimes find that out when we go to the previous employment location and then have to backtrack where their new employment location is,” Tantalo said. “But we continue to work vigorously to make sure that is completed and we are in compliance.”
Under Bello’s order, the county expects to bring in a national expert in probation policy to create new standards and best practices for the department. The two reviews of the department highlighted not just training problems, but flawed procedures and decades-old policies, according to a news release from the county.
The investigations were conducted by the county Office of Public Integrity and independent investigator George Markert. The reports and recommendations from both probes are available at monroecounty.gov/files/opi/markert-report.pdf and monroecounty.gov/files/opi/sou-report.pdf.
Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.