Parents Concerned about Pedophile Living in Village
By Cristina Commendatore
December 27, 2012
|Robert F. Tate|
Last week New Canaan School Superintendent Dr. Mary Kolek sent out a letter to parents informing them a recently released sex offender moved to town. Robert Tate, a former 35-year music director of Christ Church in Greenwich, is now living in a village apartment.
Tate, 70, who served time in federal prison and was previously ordered to join a sex offender treatment program, is living in an apartment on the east end of Elm Street. Tate was originally sentenced to five and a half years in prison in 2008 after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography.
• The NCAdvertiser.com was the first to report this story (on Monday morning, Sept. 17). This is the version that appeared on the front page of the Thursday, Sept. 20, print edition
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Tate is required to register as a sex offender wherever he works or lives, have monitored Internet usage, and is barred from spending any time alone with children younger than 18 years old — unless a “responsible adult” who is aware of his conviction is present.
Tate could have faced up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He pleaded guilty to the charge in January 2007. He was arrested in November 2006 after a church employee reportedly found pornographic images of children on his computer.
Tate was charged with one count of possession of child pornography, but revelations were made in court that he not only possessed more than 400 images of child pornography but had also traveled to places such as Costa Rica, Amsterdam and Thailand to have sexual relations with young boys and had molested a boy decades ago before he worked in Greenwich, according to the Greenwich Post, the Advertiser’s sister paper.
Tate, who was 64 at the time, admitted in court that he possessed hundreds of sexually explicit images of children, which he downloaded from the Internet. The Post reported in 2008 that some of the children in the images were younger than 12. During his 35 years at Christ Church, through his role as director of music and organist, Tate was in frequent contact with children and led youth choirs for the church.
“I’ve struggled all my life with a sexual attraction to young boys,” Tate said in court, according to Post archives. “I don’t know why this happened to me. I was abused myself, but that is no excuse. The actions I took harmed hundreds of boys.”
In court, Tate said he was “deeply ashamed” of his actions and said his position at the church allowed him to take advantage of the boys in his care. While there were no allegations of any kind of molestation while he was employed at Christ Church, Tate told the judge that what should have been platonic shows of support to boys in the choir, such as touching an arm, were in fact sexual to him and that he took advantage of the boys in a way they weren’t even aware of, according to Post archives.
Although Tate admitted to wrongdoing, many supporters from the church were singing his praises, referring to him as a “musical genius and a hero.”
In court, the state had said that Tate hired two men in the late 1970s and early 1980s who had past histories of sexual abuse of boys. The Post reported one had been fired for a sexual offense, was brought back by Tate, and then offended again.
Tate told the court he didn’t deserve his supporters’ praise. “What they’ve said isn’t true,” Tate said, according to Post archives. “I was a terrible choir master. I was a terrible person. I harmed the kids. There’s nothing I can do about that except go forth and say no more.”
Jill LaGattuta, a New Canaan mother of three, who received Kolek’s letter last week, is concerned.
“It’s horrifying this pedophile is allowed to live in the center of town,” she told the Advertiser Monday. “Kids hang out in the shops there. He’s right around the corner from Mead playground and from where kids play in the streets.”
New Canaan Police Sgt. Carol Ogrinc told the Advertiser Monday that Tate did serve his time and was recently released from prison. She said he has the right to seek residency in the town of his choice, but he has to follow certain conditions.
“His living in town makes people more on edge,” Ogrinc said. “But our surrounding towns do have sex offenders. Within miles of any direction there are sex offenders. As always, parents should watch their children and know where they are at all times. Have them check in when they go out with friends. If you’re already doing that, don’t change anything you’re doing. Awareness is the most important thing.”
According to the state Sex Offender Registry, Tate is one of three sex offenders in town. Ray DeCamillo, who lives on Summer Street, was convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault in December 2008, and Evan Papdopoulos, who lives on Ledge Avenue, was convicted of enticing a minor in March 2009.
As of Sept. 1, 2009, Connecticut state law (Public Act 09-199) requires that whenever a registered sexual offender is released into the community, in addition to the local police department receiving notification, the state Department of Public Safety shall, by email, notify the superintendent of schools for the school district in which the registrant resides, or plans to reside, according to Kolek’s letter. The notification is limited to the same information available to the public through the Internet at the sex offender registry on the Department of Public Safety website, ICrimeWatch.net.
“In addition to notifying parents when we receive a notification pursuant to the law, our principals and transportation coordinator will share pertinent information with faculty and staff as appropriate,” Kolek wrote in her letter, which she sent out to parents Thursday, Sept. 13. “Of course, we will continue to take all appropriate measures so that our schools remain healthy and safe environments.”
Detective Scott Caroon of the state Sex Offender Registry told the Advertiser Tuesday that offenders have to register with the state and verify their address with the registry every 90 days. In addition, offenders are required to notify the registry if they go out of state for more than five days as well as for any jobs, communication devices and volunteer work they have.
After the pornographic images of children were found on Tate’s computer back in 2006, Christ Church hired Greenwich resident and criminal defense attorney Philip Russell. Russell admitted in court in September 2007 to destroying a computer he thought contained the images of child pornography, hindering an FBI investigation, according to Post archives.
Russell was spared from going to jail after pleading guilty to one count of misprision of a felony. At the time, the Post reported U.S. District Court Judge Alan Nevas sentenced Russell to six months of home imprisonment where he was electronically monitored as part of a year probation. Russell also was ordered to 240 hours of community service and to pay a $25,000 fine.
The Post reported Russell would likely be dis-barred for his actions, but would be able to apply to get his license back. According to his office in Greenwich, Russell is currently practicing law.