You can watch a full replay of Saturday’s press conference below.
CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — A 22-year-old asylum seeker was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting an employee of an organization that helps asylum seekers inside of a local hotel, officials announced Saturday.
And according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, no more asylum seekers will be sent to Western New York from New York City while security efforts involving asylum seekers work to improve.
During a press conference Saturday morning, officials said Kindu Jeancy, an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was arrested Friday, after a 27-year-old Buffalo woman filed a complaint with the Cheektowaga Police Department around 4 p.m.
Jeancy was charged with sexual abuse in the first degree and unlawful imprisonment following an investigation by the police department. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
According to police, the victim is an employee of Platinum Community Care, one of the organizations assisting asylum seekers at a Best Western hotel on Dingens Street.
This is the second case of alleged sexual assault in a hotel housing asylum seekers in Cheektowaga in recent weeks.
“Two serious violent crimes are alleged to have occurred in the past two weeks and they are two too many,” said Poloncarz.
According to Cheektowaga Chief of Police Brian Gould, he has been in contact with other officials, including Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski and Poloncarz, in regards to addition assistance.
“First off, I’m asking for the immediate discontinued use of the Best Western Hotel on Dingens Street,” Chief Gould said during a press conference. “The hotel is located in a residential neighborhood and is not only causing safety concerts to nearby residents, but also quality of life issues.”
Poloncarz also called for the immediate closure of the hotel and the reimbursement by New York City to the Town of Cheektowaga for “the costs associated with securing the hotels and neighborhoods.”
Chief Gould also asked for assistance in funding for overtime pay for Cheektowaga police officers due to having a low number of patrol officers.
“I cannot add police presence in that neighborhood without taking it away from another neighborhood and that should not happen,” he said.
He also said that employees of the companies assisting with the asylum seekers need to report crimes to the police immediately and a review of onsite security must be conducted to ensure that they security guards have “training to deal with this special population.”
Poloncarz stated that, since the incident, he has been in contact with Gov. Kathy Hochul and that, in an effort to increase safety and security, the National Guard will be dispatched to the hotel to provide an additional security presence.
Poloncarz also said that he has discussed a new security plan with NYC Mayor Eric Adams as DocGo, the third party company hired by NYC to run the hotel operation, may have interfered with the investigation into the alleged sexual assault.
“I demanded Mayor Adams [New York City] paused all further transportation of asylum seekers to our community till such time we can resolve all security issues,” said Poloncarz. “He agreed and informed me that they will not send any additional persons to Erie County at this time.”
Poloncarz stated that they were not informed of the placing of the asylum seekers till shortly before the placement.
“It is not a suitable location for the asylum seekers to be placed due to the location in an immediate neighborhood of individuals in Cheektowaga as well as very close to the City of Buffalo,” Poloncarz said.
Jeancy is scheduled to be arraigned Saturday in Cheektowaga court.
Saturday afternoon, Legislator Frank Todaro released the following statement:
Today we learned a second migrant has been arrested on sex abuse charges. The 22-year-old man is charged with sex abuse and unlawful imprisonment for an incident involving a female employee of the very agency providing services to these migrants. This comes just days after a self-purported asylum seeker that was shipped here from NYC was charged with raping a woman in front of a 3-year old child. In addition, we have learned others have been arrested on petit larceny charges. When does it end? The people of Cheektowaga never asked for this. They were never told ahead of time what the County Executive’s plans were with relocating hundreds of self-purported asylum seekers. Now Cheektowaga residents are bearing the brunt of a rise in crime, a feeling of being less safe, the impact of additional strains on police services, and the cost that will inevitably fall on taxpayers. Albany and New York City have not acted with my constituents’ best interests, and this needs to end. Clearly these migrants have not been properly vetted, a concern I have voiced since the beginning. Now the County Executive is worried for our residents? Where was he a month ago? Accusing us of being, in his words, “morally repugnant” for wanting to put our residents first. It’s too late. The damage is done. These migrants need to be returned back to New York City immediately.Legislator Frank Todaro
A full statement from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz can be found here.
A spokesperson for NYC Mayor Eric Adams offered the following statement:
As we’ve been saying for months, we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, having opened approximately 200 emergency sites to serve almost 100,000 asylum seekers that have arrived in our city. Every day, we receive hundreds of additional asylum seekers and we are out of space. New York City has done and will continue to do its part, but we need counties, cities, and towns across the state to do their part as well, especially when New York City is willing to pay for shelter, food, and more. We are appreciative of all our partners across the state, especially in Erie County, who are stepping up and doing their part to meet the needs of asylum seekers. This past week, we held a call with our counterparts in the state to discuss where we can move families with school-aged children as the school year approaches. As a result, we have been and will continue to make the necessary adjustments and movements with all of our populations to ensure we have the space necessary to meet the needs of families with children. Again, we are grateful to our partners in Erie County for being genuine partners every step of the way.Spokesperson, Mayor Eric Adams
Governor Kathy Hochul also made a statement on Saturday.
Since asylum seekers first arrived in New York, we have been providing significant humanitarian aid as New York City works to meet their legal obligation to provide shelter. We will continue our efforts to provide financial support, personnel and equipment, and continued advocacy for federal assistance.Governor Kathy Hochul
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