100-Year-Old Sex Offender Released From Prison

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Everything that pedophile Theodore Sypnier has to show for his 100 years on Earth is packed in a single duffel bag as he prepares to begin a new chapter in life: freedom.

It's a chapter that prosecutors, judges and others who know him never wanted - or expected - to see written.

New York's oldest registered sex offender is scheduled to move by week's end out of a Buffalo halfway house for released inmates and into a place of his own, after completing his latest term in state prison for molesting little girls.

The judge who sentenced him said at the time that she expected him to die behind bars.

But 10 years after his last arrest, as Sypnier prepared to shed the closely monitored lifestyle of the halfway house, its director warned that the spry and active Sypnier has not changed from the manipulator who used his grandfatherly charm to snare and rape victims as young as 4.

"Whether he's 100 or 101 or 105, the same person that was committing these crimes 10, 25, 30 years ago still exists today and has an unrepentant heart," said the Rev. Terry King, director of Grace House, which has twice taken Sypnier in from prison. "He is someone that we as parents, as members of the community, any community, really need to fear."

Six months after marking his 100th birthday in the Groveland Correctional Facility - becoming the first New York inmate to reach the milestone while incarcerated- the retired telephone company worker now says he wants to get to know the youngest members of a family that has disowned him.

"I'll tell them I never harmed any children," the father, grandfather and great-grandfather told his hometown newspaper, The Buffalo News.

A former daughter-in-law said he is not likely to get the chance.

"No one from the family plans to have any contact with him," Diane Sypnier said before ending a brief phone interview.

Being grandfatherly was how the 5-foot-5, 150-pound Sypnier found his victims, authorities say. After his most recent arrest at age 90 on charges of raping and sodomizing a 4-year-old girl and her 7-year-old sister, his neighbors in the suburb of Tonawanda recalled what appeared to be a kindly Sypnier offering rides to adults, handing out money to children so they could buy candy, and baby-sitting.

The victimized sisters called him "Grandpa," their mother said at the time, adding that it "was a total shock" when police showed her sexually explicit pictures of her girls found in Sypnier's apartment.

Sypnier's convictions date to 1987, when he was given three years' probation for sex abuse. He spent a year in prison for sexually abusing a minor in 1994. His neighbors in Tonawanda never knew of Sypnier's background because he was convicted before the adoption of laws requiring sex offenders to register with police.

A relative once came forward and said Sypnier had molested her while she was growing up, former Erie County prosecutor Frank Clark told the News. Authorities wonder what else might lie in Sypnier's past.

"People don't start to become pedophiles at 78," Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita told the AP. "I call them vampires. ... This is something that's deep inside of them, and they won't want to stop doing this until they're dead."

But Sypnier says he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice, despite twice pleading guilty in the case involving the sisters.

"Those children crawled into bed with me because they were frightened, but there was never any sexual hanky-panky," Sypnier told the News.

Sypnier initially pleaded guilty in 2000 to two counts of rape, 15 counts of sodomy and endangering the welfare of a child for molesting the Tonawanda girls, as well as three in Buffalo. An appeals court threw out the conviction in 2002 after Sypnier claimed he was confused at the time, leading to another plea the following year to a lesser charge.

In sentencing Sypnier to as many as 10 years in prison, state Supreme Court Justice Penny Wolfgang told him she expected he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"The sheer notion of him wandering the streets unattended or unsupervised is a scary proposition," King said.

Sypnier was released on parole in 2007, only to be returned to prison in 2008 after failing to attend sex-offender counseling. He completed his term in November and will be on parole through 2012. Until then, he's forbidden from using e-mail, chat rooms or social networking sites, hanging around playgrounds or schools, or spending time in bars.

Instead, he spends his days watching television, cooking, socializing in the halfway house and attending programming, King said.

Sypnier's new address has not been disclosed, but the law requires him to enter it in the state's sex offender registry.

Although his age makes him New York's oldest registered sex offender, there is at least one older offender elsewhere. Bert Jackson of Utah is 103 and living under home confinement.

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  • by Anonymous on Dec 29, 2009 at 07:47 PM
    Im never ever ever ever EVER going to new york again!
  • by Dot Location: gboro on Dec 11, 2009 at 02:51 PM
    Marie: the sex offender registry was created around 1996, so sex offenders before that are not on the registry. When you search the registry remember that only perps convicted of qualifying offenses since about 96 are on it. So any creep who plead to a lesser offense, or did it before 96 or just hasnt been caught yet is not on there. Dr Owens info is available from the nc med board, but you have to ask them. It used to be on their website but I think they took it down when his story went public in July 07. A simple search of Witn or newsobserver will bring it up. His victim was a little girl staying over with his daughter. Our state protects him cause he was a bigshot doctor with political connections. Please go to nc.gov after verifying that I am telling the truth and demand that our state stops hiring sex offenders.
  • by Marie Location: Greenville on Dec 11, 2009 at 01:09 PM
    Dot, this is the second reference I've noticed about Dr. Robert C. Owens' past conviction of indecent liberties with a 9 year old girl. My question is if he was convicted in 1989, why is he not listed on the NC sexual offender's registry?
  • by phil on Dec 11, 2009 at 10:52 AM
    I'm seeing a heart attack soon. He'll go straight to hell.
  • by Dot Location: Gboro on Dec 11, 2009 at 08:25 AM
    he should come down to NC where the state of NC hires convicted admitted ( no doubt of guilt) felon child molesters as doctors and then gives them a job in a mental hospital that has young girls locked up. Thats right your tax dollars pay a convicted child molester 200,000. The state of NC just loves sex offenders- as long as they are rich and connected. Run a search on this very website for " Cherry doctor placed on leave" or on newsobserver.com, the story broke in July 07, yet the crooked state Governors etc still have this " man" on the payroll. How many of you would lose your job for a minor offense or be denied employment because you had a simple arrest in your past? Like this article says child molestation is in the blood of molesters and they dont quit till they die. I used to work with them and they NEVER get better , they ALWAYS are planning their next assault on a child. It is normal to them and they dont want to stop. Please write your legislators and demand change
  • by Tony Location: GVegas on Dec 11, 2009 at 07:40 AM
    This is the first time in my life I've even wanted to punch a 100 year old man.Sick old freak.
  • by Andy Location: Washington on Dec 11, 2009 at 06:27 AM
    Brooks was here
  • by blue eyes 28 Location: washington on Dec 11, 2009 at 04:19 AM
    all these people that are hurting kids get away with it why is that it is like the gov dont care about our kids i think that if u rape or kill any one u need to be givin the DEATH penelty no if and r buts about it if u take the life of someone your life needs to be taken but in the gov eyes they wanna slap u on the hand and say dont do it again our gov is a joke
  • by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2009 at 03:30 AM
    Im scared.
  • by Vance on Dec 10, 2009 at 02:46 PM
    What the blank?The prison system took care of him this long why set this molester free.Well maybe if it happens again the child will kick him in his knee and he will fall on his head and end it all for him not unless the Viagra holds him up.
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