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After Second Sex Assault Arrest, Many Are Left to Wonder 'What Happened?'

The charges against Steven Peter Disipio for allegedly sexually assaulting three minors paint a disturbing picture, not just of the defendant but of the shortcomings of the state's criminal database and sex offense laws.

, a 57-year old Manchester man, is being held on a $500,000 bond at the MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, where he faces multiple charges of sexual assault against two separate minor victims, with a third set of charges against a third minor still pending.

In the days and weeks after his arrest in mid-April, many in the community expressed shock, disbelief and anger over the case, with some reaching out to Patch looking for answers about a man they said they knew only as a neighbor, a friendly face on their street, or as a seemingly dutiful parent raising a pair of young girls.

What is more shocking still is that Disipio has a previous conviction for sexual assault against a minor on his record dating back to 1995, yet does not appear on a search of Connecticut’s sex offender registry, and his 31 Delmont St. residence is located within walking distance of several schools, including Arthur H. Illing Middle School and Manchester High School.

Information about Disipio’s criminal history was difficult to obtain, since the conviction occurred more than 15 years ago, while his pending cases involve minors, so information is also being withheld in those instances, but combined do help to illustrate the shortcomings of the state’s criminal database and its laws concerning criminal or sexual offenses against a minor. 

Disipio was convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault against a minor in October of 1995, a misdemeanor offense, for sexually abusing a minor from the time she was seven to the time she was 13, according to a police affidavit. He remained on probation for that offense until January of 1998. However, since Disipio’s crime was a misdemeanor offense, the Manchester Police Department, the Connecticut Judicial Branch and the office of Adult Probation have all destroyed files of the case and the conviction; most law enforcement agencies destroy files of misdemeanor offenses after a period of 10 years.

Connecticut changed its laws in October of 1998 to require that all individuals convicted of a criminal offense against a minor or a non-violent sexual assault, including misdemeanor convictions, are required to register as a sex offender. Disipio was released from probation from his fourth-degree sexual assault conviction in January of 1998, prior to the law taking affect.

The state’s online convictions database also only logs convictions for a period of 10 years, so Disipio’s 1995 conviction does not appear in that database either.

Although Disipio’s previous conviction seems to be a classic case of one that has “fallen through the cracks” of the criminal justice system, Manchester Police Chief Marc Montminy noted that any person in Connecticut is able to submit a request for a criminal background check to the Connecticut Department of Public Safety pertaining to any individual they suspect of having a criminal history, but each request costs $50 and can take months to complete, making it an impractical solution for many.

According to police affidavit’s, Disipio’s current charges stem from a period of prolonged sexual contact and advances against three minor victims – ages 15, 10 and five years old – all of whom have the same biological mother, that date back to at least 2005. Two of the three victims – the oldest and the youngest – lived under the same roof as Disipio, but only one was directly related to him.

Police reports paint a disturbing portrait of the charges, which involved sexual grouping, fondling, inappropriate acts and suggestions made to the girls by Disipio that went on for several years before it was finally reported to police by a concerned relative. Manchester Police told Patch in May that they had not ruled out bringing charges against the mother of the three girls as well, as police affidavits indicate that she did appear to have knowledge of some of the alleged abuse prior to the police investigation.

Disipio is next scheduled to appear in Hartford Superior Court for pre-trial proceedings on Aug. 16. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is being represented by the South Windsor-based law firm of Berman and Russo.

jason edlund August 17, 2011 at 12:58 PM
grat follow up on this story david, love the hard work you have been doing to come up with answers to all our questions. you have done a great job and have left nothing out

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