A popular youth figure in West Seneca and South Buffalo who worked as a local soccer coach and a church youth director was arrested in a pedophile case that police said already involves 15 victims and maybe many more.
All the victims were boys aged 9 to 14, and West Seneca police said some were molested in motel rooms on the way to baseball-card shows outside Western New York. The incidents date from 1990.
David A. Krause, 29, of South Park Avenue in Buffalo, is charged with 10 counts each of sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. Those charges all stem from incidents in 1993 involving one youth who's now 17. Other cases are expected to go before a grand jury.
"In my opinion, if the statements made by David Krause are true, and if the allegations made by his victims are true, David Krause is without a doubt the most dangerous pedophile I've come across," Lt. Allen F. Scioli, commander of the West Seneca Police Juvenile Bureau, said Friday. "This is the most disturbing case I've had in 30 years of police work."
West Seneca police have 15 names of possible victims, mostly from West Seneca and South Buffalo, and they're asking other possible victims to call them at 674-2284. Police said they already have sworn statements from at least five boys.
Those statements accuse Krause of molesting six boys on Babcock Street in South Buffalo; seven young males in apartments off Towers Boulevard in Cheektowaga; and two boys at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg, according to police.
And one boy told police he was molested at least 30 times in Krause's parents' home in East Aurora, when the parents were away.
"He took kids with him to baseball-card shows," Scioli said of Krause, identified as the owner of Kato Krause's Kard Kage. "According to the allegations, he would get a motel room with one bed. He would take two boys with him and sleep between the two boys."
Victims have told police that the incidents occurred in motel rooms from Massachusetts to Florida and from Michigan and Ohio to Washington, D.C.
Police emphasized that the suspect never grabbed boys off the street. Instead, he was accused of gaining their confidence and their parents' confidence before molesting them.
"I had parents who told me David Krause was such a nice person he could never do anything like that," Scioli said. "After reading their children's statements (to police) this week, these parents were extremely upset."
Although West Seneca police and other authorities have received complaints about Krause since 1990, they said they never could build a case.
"What I'm sick about is that we never had a formal complaint that could have saved many families from all this grief," Scioli said.
But that's often the case with pedophiles, experts say.
"Their whole being revolves around getting close to the kids, ingratiating themselves with the families and (often) getting involved in coaching and sports," said Martin J. Harrington, deputy chief investigator for Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco and a former Buffalo vice cop. "Then (afterward), the kids won't come forward, because they don't want to be labeled."
The break in the case came Monday, when Krause went to West Seneca police, claiming that he tried to harm himself the night before, after a parent had threatened to report him to police.
"He admitted that he molested and sodomized numerous young boys from 1991 to 1996," Scioli said.
The lieutenant suggested that Krause enter a private psychiatric facility, which he did. Then Scioli and Detectives Dennis Bloom and Louis Giordano worked all week finding and taking statements from possible victims.
Krause left the hospital Thursday and surrendered to police, accompanied by his attorney, Peter J. Todoro Jr. Todoro could not be reached to comment Friday.
West Seneca police reports show complaints that Krause was hanging out at ice rinks, fast-food restaurants and other public places where young boys spent their time.
He also is accused of using volunteer positions and jobs to meet boys, Scioli said. Among those positions were as a youth director for a local church, as a coach and official with the West Seneca youth soccer league and as a manager for a West Seneca pizza shop.
Krause left all three of those positions, after parents complained about some of his actions.
And early in 1990, the Boy Scouts of America suspended him from that organization following two alleged incidents in Florida, where Krause once lived.
"He is considered to be of severe danger to the Boy Scouts," a Scout executive from Florida wrote to a scouting official in Auburn. In that same letter, a social worker was quoted as calling Krause a "chronic pedophile" who never would be cured.
Investigators have no idea how geographically widespread the sexual abuse here may have been.
Krause apparently lived, at various times, in West Seneca, Cheektowaga, East Aurora and Holland, and on South Park Avenue and Babcock Street in South Buffalo. Victims also told police he may have been involved in a youth club and a soccer league in South Buffalo.
Local cases are being referred to Molly Musarra of the Erie County district attorney's office for possible prosecution. Out-of-state cases have been referred to Paul J. Campana of the U.S. attorney's office.
Scioli used Thursday's arrest to issue a warning to parents, that they should be alarmed when an older male becomes too friendly with their children, especially their boys.
"Pedophiles are masters at gaining the confidence of the children and their parents," he said. "These guys are masters. They're the best salesmen in the world."