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Avella Calls for Investigation Into Sex Offender Volunteering at Queens School

Whitestone Man Had Been Convicted On Sexual Abuse Charges, Spokeswoman for DA Brown Says

State Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, said his office and the Queens district attorney were investigating allegations that a convicted sex offender had contacted a minor on Facebook while volunteering at a school in Flushing.

Joseph Denice, of Whitestone, had been doing volunteer work for Flushing’s Saint Mel School, the senator said.

On June 1, Denice pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and attempted forgery, a spokeswoman for Queens DA Richard Brown said. The defendant was sentenced to six months in jail and five years probation on June 21.

Denice is a Level One registered sex offender, the spokeswoman said.

“Protecting our youth from dangerous predators should be paramount,” Avella said. “Our schools should be a haven where they can learn and grow under the trusted tutelage of their educators.”

The school could not be reached for comment.

Denice, whom the school let go as a volunteer earlier this week, had allegedly contacted a minor on Facebook, which is against St. Mel’s policy, a spokesman for Avella said.

The senator got involved in the matter after parents from the Flushing school contacted his office upon finding out that Denice was a sex offender.

Avella’s spokesman said the senator had taken part in a teleconference with the Brooklyn Diocese Friday afternoon. 

“The St. Mel’s matter was referred to us and is being looked at,” the DA’s spokeswoman said.

According to the criminal complaint, Denice had worked as an intern in a Queens afterschool program.

In July and September 2009, he told a 12-year-old boy in the afterschool program that he must undress and take part in a “body scan."

During several of the incidents, Denice sexually touched the boy, according to the complaint. 

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