Franklin sex offender freed; in sentencing limbo

A convicted sex offender is free in Franklin, in the wake of legal complications over his sentencing that have yet to be resolved.

In May of 2009, Robert Becker Jr. -- who was convicted earlier that year of the sexual abuse of five students at Franklin Central School -- had his one-year jail term increased, at the request of the DA, who argued in court that Becker had violated the terms of his plea agreement. But the increased sentence was overturned on appeal by the state Supreme Court. From the Daily Star:

But on Jan. 6, the state Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, vacated Becker's May 21 prison sentence on the grounds that Becker's statements to a probation officer weren't enough cause for the stricter punishment.

The court sent the case back to Delaware County Court to either impose the original agreed-upon sentences or give Becker an opportunity to withdraw his pleas before imposing the enhanced sentences.

Last week, Delaware County judge Carl Becker (no relation) declined to weigh in, saying that the case properly belonged to Judge Donald Cerio. Thus, Becker's fate will remain undecided until at least February 10, when he's scheduled to appear before Cerio.

Daily Star reporter Patricia Breakey reports that Becker's reappearance in Franklin is causing a great hue and cry in the town:

A group of about 20 Franklin residents was in court for Robert Becker's appearance. They met with Northrup afterward to question Becker's status and the safety of his victims.

The mother of one of Becker's victims said officials at the Delaware County Sheriff's Department had advised the parents to keep their children close, because all they have to protect them from Becker is "the piece of paper the court order of protection is written on."

The mother said Becker is staying with his parents within walking distance of all five of his victims.