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Past arrest on molestation trips up 'Wheelie King' in Safety Harbor

SAFETY HARBOR — Thomas Edward Lynch, a registered sex offender and former star wheelchair athlete who didn't disclose his past with supporters of an upcoming world record-setting feat in Safety Harbor, swore on Wednesday that he was innocent.

He said his accuser was a marijuana dealer and extortionist who preyed on him. He said he couldn't afford an attorney and was left with no other choice but to take a plea deal that sent him to a New York state prison in 1997 for seven years.

On Thursday, Lynch's past was exposed. There wasn't just one victim, the Suffolk County, N.Y., police told Newsday and The Buffalo News in 1997. There were four and possibly more, police said.

Lynch, who has spina bifida and hopes to shatter the Guinness World Record for longest wheelchair wheelie on Saturday, sexually molested two boys, 5 and 13 years old, in 1992.

He was sentenced to five years' probation, but in March 1997, Suffolk County police arrested him for allegedly sodomizing at least one other boy and exposing another to pornography and giving him wine.

In that case, police said, Lynch performed oral sex on one of the boys. He gave wine and possibly marijuana to another and allowed him to watch pornographic movies at his apartment. Both were younger than 16 years old.

Reached Thursday, Lynch said: "I'm not responding to anything. I have no comment."

• • •

The latest revelations prompted everyone but Safety Harbor to yank support from Lynch's event, which will be held at the city's Community Center.

The mother of the event's teenage beneficiary disassociated herself. So did WKID-FM 96.7, a Clearwater radio station owned and operated by children, and Bet Me I'm Lying, a Largo band with members as young as 12.

WKID was scheduled to broadcast live from the Community Center. Bet Me I'm Lying was slated to perform.

"Circumstances have changed," said Donna Cardullo, the mother of Brock Cardullo.

Fliers for Lynch's event asked for donations for Brock, who has cystic fibrosis.

"We're not involved in that in any shape or form," Donna Cardullo said.

"She wants absolutely nothing to do with this and we feel exactly the same," said Rodger Baker, who started WKID to keep children off the street and safe. "We were going there to do this benefit for Brock and now that we found out that Brock will not be benefitting, we have backed out ourselves. We will not be supporting any sexual offenders."

Lynch was scheduled to come to the station Thursday night to explain his side of the story to staffers, who range from 8 to 15 years old.

"I can tell you right now he will not be coming over," Baker said. "I will not allow that. I am extremely upset. I am so mad."

Officials in Safety Harbor, who gave Lynch a discount to rent the Community Center, shared contact numbers with him and helped him organize the event, said they have no legal reason to cancel the event.

"To our knowledge, Mr. Lynch has complied with every requirement of his release," City Manager Matt Spoor said in an e-mail. "Further, I have been told that Mr. Lynch has no plans to cancel his rental."

Lynch, who lives in New Port Richey and calls himself the "Wheelie King," said he rescinded the invitation to Donna Cardullo.

"I asked her to stay away," he said. "This is a Guinness World Record event and that's all."

He then hung up on a St. Petersburg Times reporter.

• • •

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services lists Lynch as a "risk level 3," the worst possible designation for sexual offenders.

Bob Clifford, the spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney, said it means "a threat to public safety exists" and the person has a "high risk of repeat offense."

In Florida, state law requires that certain offenders stay 1,000 feet away from playgrounds, parks and schools. But it only applies to those who were convicted after Oct. 1, 2004.

"This guy was convicted in '97 so he does not fall in that group," said Sgt. Thomas Nestor, a spokesman with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. "So technically, yes, he can be within 1,000 feet of kids."

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.

Past arrest on molestation trips up 'Wheelie King' in Safety Harbor 08/12/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 12, 2010 11:38pm]
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