A 15-year-old accused by another boy of a sexual assault in the Erie County detention center has escaped from custody at a suburban residence for troubled youths and now is being sought by authorities in Erie and Niagara counties.
Officials said they have tried to locate the boy, the subject of an indictment and warrant, for more than a week.
He also is a suspect in prior sexual incidents involving his sisters.
The accuser in the detention sexual assault, also 15, was petitioned to Family Court by his family as a discipline problem. He had been in the detention center on East Ferry Street for several weeks before the alleged sodomy on June 10. His mother has retained attorney Steve Boyd, a former television reporter, who notified the county she intends to sue.
Youth Services Commissioner Nathan Hare said that Family Court papers assigning the accused assailant to the detention center did not indicate that he was accused of molesting his sisters.
"We did not receive that information from the court," said Hare. "This was a PINS case."
PINS stands for persons in need of supervision, a charge frequently placed against juveniles who skip school or refuse to obey supervision at home.
There was no indication that the boy now sought by the district attorney's office might be a "sexual predator," Hare said.
"If we had known the issue, we would have organized care differently," he said. "We would have placed him in one-on-one care. A staff member would have been within arm's length distance of him 24 hours a day."
But Hare denies that sexual assault could have taken place in the center's shower room as alleged for two key reasons:
A detention worker is assigned to sit in the door and watch the PINS detainees as they shower in groups of three.
The boy making the accusation withdrew his allegation when brought face to face with the youth now being sought, but renewed it about five days later when the other boy was removed to Family Court, and later to the residence for troubled youths.
"The manner in which the allegation was made does not sound credible, based on the physical layout (of the detention shower)," Hare said.