Joseph Denice, 24, was arrested in December of 2009 and convicted of second-degree sex abuse in June of 2010. While volunteering in the Office of Religious Education at St. Kevin's Church in Bayside, Denice forged letters that claimed a boy in an after-school program required a “body scan” as part of an investigation. He then used the opportunity to sexually abuse the child.
Red flags were raised about Denice after he contacted one of the students at St. Mel through Facebook, which is against school policy. Research on the part of concerned parents revealed his troubled past.
State Senator Tony Avella immediately sent letters to the Brooklyn Diocese and the Department of Education requesting meetings with school officials and parents, as well as Facebook, requesting that they remove Denice's profile from their website.
“Protecting our youth from dangerous predators should be paramount,” said Avella. “Our schools should be a haven where they can learn and grow under the trusted tutelage of their educators.
Denice has been volunteering at various schools in northeast Queens since at least 2007. The Brooklyn Diocese performed a background check on the Whitestone resident in 2005, but failed to complete a new background check on Denice when he began volunteering at St. Mel.