Feb. 5, 2015 By Michael Florio
The sex offender who had been living at the Westway shelter has been removed, according to a spokesman for Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas.
Simotas was notified by Department of Homeless Service (DHS) this morning that James Bryant, a level 2 sex offender, was no longer residing at the Westway Motel, which is located on Astoria Blvd.
The announcement comes just a day after the DHS said that it was reviewing its policy on housing sex offenders in family shelters.
It issued a statement yesterday that read: “DHS takes safety concerns very seriously,” adding that it is “currently reviewing policies with regard to sex offenders in the families with children system.”
Bryant, 49, had previously been living in a shelter in the Bronx since 2014, after serving 10-years in prison for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in Texas in 2003. However, he was moved to Westway recently without the community or local representatives being notified.
Local politicians were outraged when they discovered that Bryant had been transferred to Westway.
State Senator Mike Gianaris said earlier this week that it was “downright disturbing” that DHS would bring a “sex offender to our streets unbeknownst to nearby residents.”
Simotas was also upset that the agency ignored the community.
“This is either a complete lack of oversight or a willful attempt to pull the wool over our eyes by quietly shifting this danger from one community to the next,” Simotas said.
She was not alone in her outrage towards DHS.
Astoria residents were so disturbed that they were preparing a protest outside Westway calling for Bryant’s removal.
Posters began circulating that called for peaceful protest on Saturday.
The protest demanded “the immediate removal of James Bryant from Westway Motel.”
However, DHS seemed to have got the message that many residents were angry.
“The Department of Homeless Services assured us that they will be more sensitive when they relocate individuals in the future and that they will be considerate to the needs of our residential neighborhoods,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides this morning.