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Apr 10, 2019 10:14 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

DA: Correction Officer Sexually Abused Minor Over Several Years

Robert Weiss is walked out of Southampton Town Police headquarters on Friday.     DANA SHAW
Apr 10, 2019 10:48 AM

Authorities have accused a Suffolk County corrections officer who lives in Hampton Bays of sexually abusing a minor multiple times over the course of several years, and he now faces numerous felony charges.

Robert Weis, 55, was arrested by Southampton Town Police last Thursday, April 4, after an investigation by town detectives, with the help of the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

During Mr. Weis’s arraignment in Southampton Town Justice Court on Friday, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Laurie Moroff said Mr. Weis befriended a 7-year-old boy in 1996 and sexually abused the boy between the ages of 7 and 16.

The victim, now 29, reported the abuse to Southampton Town Police in March 2019, and Mr. Weis was arrested shortly after leaving his house on Thursday morning, authorities said.

At the time of his arrest, police said, Mr. Weis was driving an 11-year old boy—described as a friend of the family whom Mr. Weis was watching—to school. Police did not describe the boy as a victim of abuse.

Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki said at the press conference that during a search of Mr. Weis’s home, three unregistered handguns, 32 long rifles and 50,000 rounds of ammunition also were found.

Additionally, police found Mr. Weis was in possession of items he stole from the Suffolk County Correctional Facility, according to authorities. Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said during a press conference on Friday after the arraignment that the stolen equipment included things like bulletproof vests, handcuffs and EMT equipment.

Mr. Sini said DVDs were also recovered from Mr. Weis’s house, and are suspected to possibly contain child pornography.

“There are certainly indications that it does,” he said. One of the DVDs is titled: “Age Is Just a Number.”

Although Mr. Weis works at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Yaphank, and has for 24 years, his ability to carry a gun was revoked by the department following allegations in 2016 that he sexually abused a child in South Carolina, according to Suffolk County Undersheriff Steven J. Kuehhas.

When the allegations were made, Undersheriff Kuehhas explained, Mr. Weis was assigned to a quartermaster position at the correctional facility and placed on restricted duty. Under restrictive duty, Mr. Weis was not allowed to carry a firearm, even though quartermasters typically carry guns.

In South Carolina, Mr. Weis was accused of abusing a 13-year-old male relative. He posted $100,000 bond and was released.

Mr. Weis has been a foster parent for 15 years, Ms. Moroff said, and has legally adopted five children—all males with intellectual disabilities—who are now between the ages of 19 and 26 years old.

“That’s what has the chief and I so concerned,” Mr. Sini said. “He’s had contact with a number of different children throughout his life, in a role where these children were supposed to trust him.”

The boys Mr. Weis adopted and fostered, Chief Skrynecki said, came from broken homes.

He added that the department believes there could be more victims and asked anyone with information about Mr. Weis to contact the Southampton Town Police Department Detective Division.

During the arraignment, Ms. Moroff requested that Town Justice Barbara Wilson set bail at $1 million cash or $3 million bond, calling the allegations serious and describing Mr. Weis as a flight risk. She explained that Mr. Weis was in the process of packing to move to Texas. When Justice Wilson asked when he was planning to move, Mr. Weis said next year, after retirement.

Mr. Weis’s lawyer, Southampton Village-based attorney James O’Shea of O’Shea Marcincuk and Bruyn, requested a lesser bail amount. He said his client served in Iraq in 2004 and has four of his adopted boys living at the house. The request was declined, and Justice Wilson set bail at the amount Ms. Moroff asked for.

After the arraignment, Mr. O’Shea said he had a lot of work ahead of him. Up until the hearing, he said, he had only met with Mr. Weis for five minutes.

“I realize that child abuse is a serious problem, and sometimes memories are suppressed—trying to defend something that happened 20 years ago is really, really difficult,” he said. “It’s also really difficult to prosecute. So it’s a double-edged sword.

“Basically, folks, we have to just wait to see how this plays out, get more information, and we’ll go from there,” he added.

Mr. Weis is expected back in court on Friday, April 12.

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