But police know a different Flory, one who admitted to abusing several children, aged 7 to 11, and said he did not force the sexual encounters on them, according to law enforcement sources.Flory, 48, is an out-of-work mechanic and father of three who moved from his College Point home to West Hempstead, L.I. two weeks ago. He was charged Friday in multiple criminal complaints with first-degree rape, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.He faces up to 50 years behind bars if convicted."According to the charges, the defendant isolated children Ð- both girls and boys Ð- inside his home and his van where he sexually assaulted and abused them," Brown said. "The charges accuse the defendant of betraying his trust as a parent and destroying the innocence of children. The charges are shocking."Up until two weeks ago, Flory lived in a two-family home on College Place in College Point, not far from the First Reformed Church, at 118-04 14th Ave., where he used to bring his children to mass every Sunday."Nothing he did here would have led anyone to suspect this," Rev. Linda Burlew, pastor of the church, said Monday. "We're looking back and trying to revisit every conversation everyone had with him."Burlew said so far no church members have come forward to say that Flory had any improper encounters with their children.Flory brought his three children, the elder boy, a younger girl and occasionally a toddler, to mass every Sunday. The two older ones, who were elementary school age, were enrolled in Sunday school at the First Reformed Church."I found out listening to 1010 WINS. I was in my car, I did a double-take," Burlew said. "On Friday night we just didn't know what to believe."An across-the-street neighbor of Flory's, Hilda Gehm, said her normally quiet block was covered with TV news vans last week."Nobody believed it," Gehm said, "It was too much. How could somebody do something like that?"Gehm had heard that it was neighborhood children who reported that Flory molested them. Flory lived on College Place with his fiance and three kids, two who were from a prior marriage, according to media reports.Burlew said Flory had no other relationship with the church than as a parishioner for the past five years. The church also has a strict policy, she added, that children are not to be left alone with adults. That rule was implemented a year ago at the insistence of the church's insurance company. Burlew said she assumes the new requirement might have stemmed from the priest molestation scandal that plagued the Catholic church in 2002 and 2003."Unfortunately, it's become glaringly obvious that we need (the policy). We've spent the last two days wondering if we should have seen something and didn't, but there's nothing," she said. "People are talking to their kids. You go with 'don't talk to strangers,' but now it's so much more complicated than that."Flory had recently lost his job as a mechanic and been evicted from his College Point home. Gehm said the owners of the house that Flory's family was living in died last year, thereby leading to his eviction."Over the last couple of months he had one of those strings of bad luck. We were all praying for him," Burlew said, adding the church is still praying for Flory and his family. "This is something you read about happening in other places to other people," she said. "You're supposed to be able to spot them. You're supposed to be able to protect your kids."She said his absence from mass Sunday was impossible to ignore."Everybody in church was looking at the pew where he would have sat," she said.An employee at a local deli who also attended the First Reformed Church said Flory was an ordinary man that no one would suspect was molesting children."I was just in shock," said the woman, who wished to remain unnamed. "You never would think anything was wrong with him."Gehm said since the news had broken on her block, she had become increasingly suspicious of people."I'm afraid," she said. "You never know who's next to you."Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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