Tonawanda News — A Tonawanda man sentenced to 15 years in prison in late April for kidnapping and sexually abusing a young North Tonawanda girl last year was in Niagara County Court Thursday morning for a sex offender registry assessment.
But it wasn’t for the most recent incident, which took place in July 2012, when David J. Grover, now 35, disappeared with the child from her North Tonawanda home. He turned up hours later at a relative’s home in the City of Tonawanda, after sexually abusing her in a nearby patch of woods.
Ultimately, Grover’s offender status will be determined when he is released from state prison on the latest charge of kidnapping as a sexually motivated felony, for which he pleaded guilty.
Instead, an oversight involving a very similar scenario that took place in 2007, when he left a family friend’s home with a 3-year-old girl in his vehicle, was the subject of Thursday’s hearing.
The abduction had initiated North Tonawanda’s first Amber Alert and led to Grover’s conviction on a reduced charge of endangering the welfare of a child, which according to prosecutors, required a sex offender assessment.
“It should have been determined when he was released on the previous sentence,” said Niagara County Assistant District Attorney Robert Zucco, of the failure of the Board of Examiners of Sex Offenders of New York State to register Grover as a sex offender, after he spent four years in prison for the 2007 conviction.
Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas said in court Thursday that the board “just learned of the 2007 conviction by a registrable offense.”
Grover, who dropped the young victim — who police said Grover did not sexually abuse — at her house and led police on a 10-mile chase before being taken into custody. He was also convicted in May 2005 for burglary when he was found outside the bedroom of a teenage girl.
Farkas said a point system used by the board and based on the victim’s age, Grover’s history of felony convictions and whether drugs or alcohol were involved led to a Level 2 status, thought that status may be bumped up to a Level 3 — the status indicating the highest likelihood of repeat offenses — after serving his current term, when a new review will take place.
“That will be determined when he’s released,” Zucco said.
A Level 2 status indicates a sex offender is of moderate risk of repeat offense, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
The terms of the status require that Grover register as a sex offender, notify authorities of where he lives and when he moves and prohibits contact with those under the age of 18 as well as the use of social media sites. Grover will also be on post-release supervision for 25 years when his prison term ends.
“He’s going to be incarcerated so whether he is a Level 2 or a Level 3 everybody is going to know where he is,” Zucco said.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext.4115.