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Supervisor 'Shocked,' 'Disturbed' by Torres Allegations

Venditto vows to examine Oyster Bay policies going forward in wake of ex-Yankee's arrest on child molestation charges.

Oyster Bay Supervisor expressed "shock" at the arrest of , saying he found the sexual abuse charges "deeply disturbing," and vowed to address town hiring policies as the case goes forward.

In an exclusive interview with Patch following Tuesday morning's Town Board meeting, Venditto said an extensive background check was done on Torres before he was hired in 2002 by both the Nassau County Civil Service Commission as well as in a separate investigation by the

Going forward, Venditto said the town will examine its hiring practices and make changes if necessary. "As we learn more (about the case) if there are lessons to be learned from this and things to be done in the future, the Town of Oyster Bay will do them," Venditto said.

The town and the Commission were aware of Torres' past, which included a . The town felt strongly that Torres had reformed and could be of value to others, Venditto said. There was nothing in the background checks to indicate Torres had inappropriate contact with children, town officials said.

Nassau County's Civil Service Commission also approved Torres' hiring. All town employees go through the same double background checks at the county and local level before they are hired, Venditto said.

"Part of his story (to young people) was how he overcame his difficulties, and how they could, too," said Venditto of Torres' drug conviction dating to 1985. "He was a motivational speaker as well as a coach who conducted clinics. And he was really in demand."

The Town was convinced that Torres could provide a meaningful service to residents and his message could be an asset to schools and community organizations, Venditto said. Torres was already a motivational speaker and was acclaimed at the time of his hire as someone with an inspirational story to tell, Venditto said.

In fact, Torres was booked solid through much of the year and not just during the baseball season, Venditto said. Torres appeared at school functions, at church groups and numerous baseball-related clinics.

"He spoke to tens of thousands of parents and children over that period," Venditto said. "He had been only an exemplary employee up to this point (of his arrest)."

Until Torres was jailed last week, Venditto said no one in the town ever heard of complaints about the former major league player, including any allegations of inappropriate behavior around children.

"When someone has established his credibility it makes it all the harder to comprehend (the sexual abuse allegations)," the Supervisor said.

But Venditto said he read the complete police have lodged against Torres. The legal document contains specific allegations of sexual abuse and admissions of guilt by Torres. The report (attached here) also makes reference to physical evidence related to the victim's clothing.

"I was sickened," Venditto said. "(The allegations) were pretty shameful and not particularly pleasant to read."

Torres, 63, of North Massapequa, was arrested Monday May 7 by Nassau Police, who charged him in connection with two separate instances of sexual abuse involving an 8-year-old girl. The incidents took place in a town-owned van driven by Torres to a clinic in Plainview, police said.

Venditto has said that the town is cooperating with the investigation. Torres, who is out of jail on $50,000 bail, has been suspended without pay and his clinics cancelled.

JoeM May 15, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Mr. Dowd, ask Venditto for copoies of Torres' time sheets. And then ask him and other Massapequa Republicans to return the campaign contributions that Torres made to them.
JoeM May 15, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Venditto certainly isn't shocked over high salaries for political cronies. Maybe it's time the State Comptroller did an audit and investigation.
Ed May 16, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Should ask Venditto who recommended Torres be hired and why he felt that the town needed a baseball coach.
JoeM May 16, 2012 at 04:36 AM
His name is Tom Sabellico.
TheGreek May 16, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Sounds like the town had a good reason for hiring Torres despite his felony drug conviction, *if* he was doing drug counseling as well as baseball clinics. Good "in depth" reporting Joe, getting to the bottom of this. I am sure there's more to come.
Joe Dowd (Editor) May 16, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Thanks, Greek. We'll stay on the story as it develops. Joe M.: Can you contact me regarding the Farmingdale issue via email. joe.dowd@patch.com.
Joe Dowd (Editor) May 16, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Greek: Mr. Venditto did say Torres routinely gave an anti-drug message in his talks to kids and other groups. It was part of his presentation. Good question.
Cosmo May 16, 2012 at 05:59 PM
He still did not answer why the taxpayers were paying for a baseball coach. That is a lot of money to give clinics and talk in schools about drug abuse. Normally a former major league player would volunteer their time to give back to the community, without being put on the payroll.
tony May 16, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Ditto I agree with Cosmo. While we complain about school property taxes, TOB spends our tax money on Coaches. What other sweet no show jobs at TOB? How do you apply for them? I sure there are more for them " For the Good Old Boys ".
Simba May 17, 2012 at 08:58 AM
Tony, the difference here is that the School taxes go up every year at a greater rate than property taxes.
tony May 18, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Check your TOB taxes over the last 6 years. What wasn't raised in Taxes was made up in Fees, Permits and Licences. Also salaries have risen at a higher % then school employees. Any see through NY or similar sites will verify what i am saying
TomMullen May 19, 2012 at 05:23 AM
I find this interesting. Exactly 20 years ago i ran an unsuccessful primary for the State Assembly against the then steadfast Assemblyman for 22 years, Phil Healey. My political reform message centered on the Town and well as the State in Albany I focused on, that is, the political patronage among the Republicans in this Town and what they have gotten away with the last 50 years (give and take a few years under Yevoli) is perhaps the most insidious amount of incompetence and corrupt employment practices anywhere found in this country. While I now reside in San Diego, you folks in the town have been bamboozled for decades - you people have LET this political hacks hire whoever they want, for one hand washes the other political dealings, and I remember hearing on the campaign trail "it's the way it is everywhere." No, it is not. If the City of SD ran their City like the political hacks in Mineola and Oyster Bay run employment practices (e.g. the HR Director for the Town was a Republican Committeewoman at the time I lived there) the conflicts of interest, and the salaries for political appointees, THERE WOULD BE A CIVIL WAR HERE. You folks in the Town really need to wake up.

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