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Case of child sex abuse, infiltration called typical

Once you strip away the killing of Madeline Irene and the case's grisly details, professionals familiar with child sex abuse have one word for the way they believe a convicted sex offender infiltrated her family:

Typical.

"What we have here is an extreme outcome in a case that's pretty typical of child sexual abuse cases," said Lt. David F. Mann Jr., commander of the Buffalo Sex Offense Squad.

The accused mastermind in the killing, Edwin Gimenez, 50, has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, plus sodomy and kidnapping, following the Aug. 18 slaying of the West Side woman. Police say Gimenez conspired with her 15-year-old son, Angel Rosa, who is accused of killing his mother.

A grand jury Friday handed up indictments against the two. The charges were not released because the indictment had not yet been handed to a superior court judge, according to prosecutors.

State records show that Gimenez is a convicted sex offender from Suffolk County who was released on parole from Elmira Correctional Facility in 1993.

Gimenez isn't accused of abducting anyone from a playground here or offering candy to a child he didn't know.

Instead, Buffalo homicide detectives say he befriended a vulnerable family and earned the trust of a 46-year-old mother who was having disciplinary problems with her teenage son.

The public tends to focus on stranger abductions, but the Gimenez courting of Irene's family is much more typical, professionals say.

"Pedophiles typically do not grab kids off the street," Mann said. "Rather, they insinuate themselves into the life of a victim they've targeted. And they often are very patient in doing that."

Mann added that pedophiles often develop a supportive and emotional relationship with a child. Only when that relationship is well established will the molester turn it into a sexual relationship.

Gimenez does not appear on New York State's list of Level 3 sex offenders. He was released from prison about three years before Megan's Law went into effect.

That law requires convicted sex offenders to register with police once they're released from prison. The law also allows authorities to notify potentially "vulnerable" groups such as nearby schools and day-care centers.

But professionals who deal with child sex abuse prefer talking about the registration and monitoring aspects of the law, more so than notification.

"The most effective way to stop known perpetrators from reoffending is registration and ongoing human supervision of those individuals," said Kenneth J. Duszynski, who counsels adults at Mid-Erie Counseling and Treatment Services.

"We should be asking, 'Who are we trusting with our children?' and, 'What is their motivation for wanting to be with our children?' "

Mann agrees.

"If people in the community learn how pedophiles actually operate -- usually not by kidnapping, but by worming their way into the life of a kid -- then they might be better at spotting signs of trouble before the pedophile can become sexually involved with the child," he said.

Child molesters work hard for unfettered private access to a child, and that's something they achieve through becoming a trusted "member of the family," Mann said. Irene apparently trusted Gimenez enough to let Angel visit his home for extended periods of time.

As they talk about the lessons of the Gimenez case, professionals in the field also point out the curiosity of the most high-profile cases -- the ones that end in death -- being the least typical.

"A homicide in cases like this is aberrant," Duszynski said. "It's very unusual."

Before this case led to a killing, it wasn't much different from about 200 child sex abuse cases in the city each year, Mann said.

Details of the Gimenez case also have fueled the campaigns of those who want New York State to enact tougher laws against convicted sex offenders.

"This is all the more reason the State Assembly should get off its duff and at least strengthen Megan's Law," said Shelly Schratz, an Amherst Town Board member who started a grass-roots effort called Protect Our Children.

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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