Suspected Predator Arrested at Ball Fields

There’s a scary story in today’s Broadsheet about a man who was suspected of attempting to lure kids from the Battery Park City ball fields. Although “at least two sets of parents […] declined to file a complaint because they did not want their children to be traumatized by the incident,” the NYPD had an outstanding warrant for him about something else. They’re getting a warrant to search his home.

The man was discovered because a child alerted his parents. Parents: If you’ve never had the talk warning your kids about predators, for Pete’s sake, do it now.

UPDATE: In a subsequent report, the Broadsheet said this: “An earlier version of this story that appeared in the BroadsheetDaily on September 30 quoted police sources as saying that the parents of the children approached by Mr. Pettersen were unwilling to file a complaint. While this passage accurately reflected what police sources told the Broadsheet, it did not convey that the parents cooperated fully in the investigation. The Broadsheet regrets any misunderstanding.”



  1. While protecting their kids, those parents are doing a disservice to the community. The more complaints filed the better the chance that this predator can be stopped. Yes, their child will not be traumatized but someone else’s child might disappear.

  2. I could not agree more. There is a potentially dangerous person around the kids in our neighborhood and the parents are only looking out for their kids.

  3. Typical Tribeca – the public good takes second place to the parents’ hypersensitivity about their children’s emotional well-being. That hypersensitivity is what will actually traumatize a kid. I don’t know about you, but my kid would feel empowered, not traumatized, by helping to put this guy away.

  4. I believe it would be empowering, instead traumatizing, for the kids if parents file a complaint. Otherwise they are getting the message that it is good to “cover up” these stories, that is is good to be afraid and let go of a predator. Children are very smart, and will be more traumatized if nothing is done; they might even start to believe the world is full of predators because no one does anything about it, and will feel more unsafe. We live in the world we live in and I believe it is good to prepare children to face life without fear, and feeling that they are part of a community that supports them.

  5. I am also aware that on Saturday a laptop/tablet was stolen from a bag belonging to a parent at the ball fields.

  6. I agree with Noah. such selfish narrow minded parents subjecting the public to a predator. Also, who knows what the outstanding warrant was for? He may already be back out on the streets. The fact that he tried to lure kids to Tear Drop park makes me think that this person is local or has a close local tie.

  7. Could the coach file a complaint? I think so

  8. These parents should seriously consider getting their kids out of the city. One of the great dilemmas that faces NYC parents is the tradeoff between giving their children freedom and keeping them safe. You either have to deny them some of the freedoms that children should earn as they mature, or you must put them in harm’s way more frequently. We didn’t want to do the former, but also didn’t feel we were capable of doing the latter, so we moved to the burbs.

    The kids can handle pressing charges, but it’s clear that the parents are traumatized by the differing degrees of anxiety that we all face as our kids leave the protection phase and enter the phase where we are supposed to start slowly nudging them out of the nest. Give them a chance to be heroes by standing up for their neighborhood friends. Don’t miss the opportunity for a crash course in civic responsibility that must have fallen on the parents’ deaf ears when they were kids. Then, get them a yard and let them run leash-free, or they will be their wards for life.

  9. To ex-Manhattan parent. I never knew the suburbs were completely without predators. This is such a well kept secret. I guess the news makes up those stories about kids being abducted in the suburbs.

  10. I understand how you could have misinterpreted my comment, Bettina. I was not referring specifically to the context of predators, but to the many day to day risks in the city that justify parents being generally more protective of their children than they might be in a more rural environment. As my life was routinely threatened on the Chambers St. platform, I only worried about the tween boy who was nervously standing there alone witnessing it.

    My 9 year old was shocked the first time I didn’t join him to go play catch with a neighbor. It has been very liberating as a parent to not have to micromanage every aspect of my childrens’ lives for their personal safety. Of course we still have predators out here, and a whole bunch of new risks. We just don’t live in what I consider to be a hostile environment anymore.

  11. It’s a testament to the urban lifestyle.  Lots of smart kids and adults.  The kids knew to alert an adult and not walk away with a stranger.  There are always a lot of people around self-policing, as well as park officials, uniform officers and undercover officers.  

  12. I am absolutely horrified by this story. To have parents not willing to stand up for their rights, their children’s rights and our community’s rights to have the opportunity to live and play in a “safe” neighborhood is just plain sad. These parents are doing a greater disservice to their own family and community than whatever “traumatizing” repercussions may come from pressing charges against this individual. I spend my days out and about with my two young (extremely playful and outgoing) children in this neighborhood and truly feel blessed each and every day. To me there is no better place to raise my children in our current situation. We get to live/work in a great metropolis yet have parks, schools, business, and lively safe community at our doorstep, literally. While I know how fortunate I am to be able to stay home and watch my children daily with my own eyes…I do understand those parents who either do not have that opportunity or choose to go to work and must leave the role to a caregiver. As a member of this community I regularly find myself watching out for not only my children, but all the children who are here living and playing along side us. They say it takes a village to raise a child and I wholeheartedly agree. So while I watch over your children daily, please think of the better good and do what is needed to make sure no ones child is ever put in that situation again.

  13. I hope that after a day or so and some reflection the parents of the children involved can step up to the standard and example their children set during the incident.

    These children were smart and brave, and did exactly what they were supposed to do. They showed confidence, character and ability to be clearheaded in an emergency. They were empowered and stood up for themselves.

    I think the fact that the parents chose not to stand up for their children will be far more traumatizing to them. It sends an awful message.

  14. Predator-schmedator. Are you sure he just wasn’t being an “artist?” Get over it and let your nanny handle it. More importantly, have you bought your tickets to the HRP Gala-palooza? Let’s keep focused on what’s really important in NYC, NYCers. Who gives a kafloohey if the government is going to shut down or someone is taking photos of your children with a telephoto lens from inside their apartment or a politician is tweeting a photo of his tweeter or a bunch of motorcyclists, with “allegedly” small tweeters, band together in tight leathers and loud exhausts to overcome their insecurity of riding and peeing alone? We need to take a moment, while festively attired and with our wives’ botox-enhanced festive-less faces and skin-tone appropriate bronzers, on a Westside pier to raise our plastic champagne chalices to the real heroes of NYC. Vroom, vroom. Stay focused, people….stay focused.

  15. Liz

    Good point. This NYC attitude “I don’t want to get involved” makes me puke.

  16. It’s not an “I don’t want to get involved” attitude, it’s “I’m late for yoga, pilates, or texting or brunch with “not my wife/husband” attitude.

  17. I was in an elevator in FiDi Friday when I heard two cops talking discuss a man luring kids: “he was trying to take kids out of the park” one said, and it was clear they were heading to a scene. I asked which park it was, and they brushed it off, but it sounds like the same situation.

  18. Liz, Great point.
    Sounds like Jim doesn’t have kids. I’ve lived here a long time and not everyone is like you describe with Botox, champagne and all.
    We are all responsible for each others safety. Period. Predators can be anywhere. The city is no different nor is TriBeCa.

    I know so many kids who were at the fields at the time, including my own. If it had happened to my own kid, we would have immediately filed a complaint.

  19. ex-manhattan parent: parents vs. suburbs is a trade-off. I grew up in the suburbs – plenty of dangers, there, that don’t exist here, and vice-versa. Think of the teenage years: my city kids will have to worry about being robbed by a peer; yours won’t. My kids won’t need to worry about getting in a car driven by a drunk teenager; yours will. Your kids will have wide-open spaces to run around in; my kids will never be bored. My kids might be exposed to marijuana & alcohol early; yours might not be able to access weed or drink so easily & thus turn to their parents’ medicine cabinets, or huffing.
    As for predators, the professional monsters know the ‘burbs is where the least-watched, most naive kids live. City kids are too savvy to mess with. The guy they caught here is either new or mentally ill beyond simple pedophilia. Plus, considering many, if not most, cases of molestation involve someone the kid & family knows, there’s really no geographical argument for the crime at all.

  20. I think we are getting a little off point here. It’s not where you live, i.e. city v. suburbs. It is about being a good citizen and protecting your neighbors. When the police are actually able to apprehend a serious threat to any community, it is everyone’s responsibility to press charges/file a complaint to aid law enforcement to keep these people off the streets. These parents who failed to file a complaint are probably the same people who will be first in line when this guy strikes again to say, “well the police had him, why didn’t they keep him off the streets.”

  21. We can only hope the parents have changed their mind and want to protect their kids and the neighborhood by filing a complaint.. As a mom in the hood I completely agree with Tribeca Stay at home – we need to not only watch out for our kids but for all. Its what being a community is all about.

  22. I feel like I need to better spell out the perspective that I was trying to communicate, because it has not gone in the direction that it was intended to. Frankly, I am a bit surprised that people from a city that prides itself on diversity can be so quick to discard an opinion, opting for the more hostile interpretation. If you carefully reread my comments, you will not see an attack on city living. In fact, you will find a declaration that I didn’t feel that I have the skillset for raising my kids in NYC. That was precisely what I was referring to when I suggested that these parents might not have the confidence to unleash their kids in the city, when the time comes that they should.

    What I wrote was germane to the conversation if we are willing to consider that NYC is full of people from entirely different backgrounds. In many cultures, people bury things like this. I am not ashamed that I was a victim of molestation as a young child, but I understand why some people are more withdrawn when it comes to issues as dark as this one. NYC’s diverse population also comes from differing cultures with differing balances of individual vs. community. I believe my comment was also relevant because the parents are entitled to their unique parental vision. It seems reasonable that we can attempt to empathize with somebody whose emotional state has just been taken to the wall with the fear that he might have gotten away with it. That doesn’t mean that we have to agree with their inaction, but New Yorkers have the burden of a proud reputation of open-mindedness to live up to.

    I’m not going to get into the self-gratifying merits of debating suburban vs. city living. I never intended to, and conceded more generally that I am personally more suited to burb-risks over city-risks. I can’t resist however, pointing out the irony that most of the New Yorkers that I know didn’t grow up in NYC. Somehow they were “savvy” enough to make it off of the farm or out of the mountains and compete with some of the best in the world (while simultaneously declaring the city to be their home field). It’s a city to be proud to live in, but I personally believe that giving my children small freedoms earlier is my best bet in preparing them to make it back one day (if they so desire). I don’t ever want to let go of my kids’ hands, and NYC lets me hold on when I should be letting go. Now I don’t have any excuses.

    I would repeat my unsolicited suggestion that these parents should try to take this leap of faith in their children, and then ask themselves if they are going to have the stomach to raise their kids in the city. The only way to properly prepare children for the world is to turn them over to it.

  23. Does anyone have a photo of this guy to circulate? Someone said I might be able to find it on the NYPD site.
    I cannot believe the parents didn’t press charges – it’s going to be more traumatizing for the kids if this guy gets a hold of one of their friends with a not so good outcome.

  24. From the Broadstreet “Officers from the First Precinct quickly arrived at the scene and interviewed at least two sets of parents. These officers asked the mother and her two sons to accompany them to the First Precinct, where the family spent about two hours giving statements. The officers also brought Mr. Pettersen to the First Precinct, where he was initially charged with luring a child to commit a crime, a class-E felony, and acting in a manner injurious to a child under 17, a class-A misdemeanor. These charges were superseded by those imposed by the District Attorney’s office.

    An earlier version of this story that appeared in the BroadsheetDaily on September 30 quoted police sources as saying that the parents of the children approached by Mr. Pettersen were unwilling to file a complaint. While this passage accurately reflected what police sources told the Broadsheet, it did not convey that the parents cooperated fully in the investigation. The Broadsheet regrets any misunderstanding.

    The mother of the boys who were approached at the ball fields by Mr. Pettersen on consecutive Fridays says, “both the police and the District Attorney’s office have been very responsive and very professional. They reacted very quickly and have wanted to help in any way they could.”

  25. What the Broadsheet printed was reckless and incompetent. The Broadsheet/Matt Fenton should issue an apology to the parents and the children involved, instead of calling the police liars.

    It seemed pretty clear cut. I am not sure how you get “parents unwilling to file charges” from “parents and kids spent 2 hours at police station helping with the investigation and filing charges.”

    My apology goes out to the family as I had stated in this blog that they did not stick up for their children or their community.

    The only one not sticking up for the community is the Broadsheet, the “author” caused the family added stress, through his incompetent journalism.

  26. I’m the parent of two middle school ages girls who attend BPC school and they travel to and from school alone daily. We don’t live within walking distance so they take the subway. I’ve tried all I can to teach them that if anything happens they need to tell the police in the event that my husband and I aren’t with them. If they see anyone trying to harm or lure or talk to them even if the grown up looks “normal” or “harmless”, they need to go back inside the school building and tell someone or tell the police which aren’t hard to find in the battery park city area at all. I also let them know that they can tell someone like a cop, if they see some other child being lured or someone trying to talk to a child that they don’t know. It’s important to teach children to be socially aware and it is not traumatizing for them to report an incident to the police, especially when the incident involves child predators and the likes. These people get away with these crimes on a daily basis because of parents who don’t allow their children to help by reporting any strange or inappropriate activity. If they every get lured by a predator, the person might get away with it because the children may get the ideal, from their parents, that it’s best to keep quiet. Keeping secrets is what they’re teaching their children. It’s ridiculous.

  27. @Claudia N.: In a subsequent report (which I mentioned elsewhere but should have also noted here and will do so now), the Broadsheet said this: “An earlier version of this story that appeared in the BroadsheetDaily on September 30 quoted police sources as saying that the parents of the children approached by Mr. Pettersen were unwilling to file a complaint. While this passage accurately reflected what police sources told the Broadsheet, it did not convey that the parents cooperated fully in the investigation. The Broadsheet regrets any misunderstanding.”