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Appeals court orders Niagara Falls sex offender freed

A sex offender from Niagara Falls, who was serving a three-year prison term for violating the rules of his probation, will be freed in the wake of a ruling from the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court.

A five-judge panel ruled unanimously Friday that Anthony J. Goodearl, 42, had been punished enough for a 2009 incident in which he fondled a sleeping woman in her North Tonawanda home. He had no prior criminal record; his lawyer blamed the act on drinking too much beer.

In 2010, Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon sentenced Goodearl to 10 years' probation, beginning with six months in jail. In June 2018, after a probation officer accused him of not complying with sex offender treatment, State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. resentenced Goodearl to three years in state prison.

The appellate court cut that to one year, which Goodearl already has completed. The panel said Goodearl did well on probation for eight years, held a job and attended sex offender counseling.

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