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By Craig Braack

The arrest of serial sex offender Patrick O’Neill by the “long arm of the law”

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O’Neill was arrested October 1 at the US-Canadian border for a 2008 assault in Wellsville

From the Sun Investigative Team(SIT,) photo from the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office

Early this week the Wellsville Police Department reported an unusual arrest:

“Sunday October 1, 2023- Wellsville Police arrested Patrick J. O’Neill, age 52 of Toronto, Canada, charging him with Criminal Sex Act 1st (Class B Felony). The charge stems from an investigation of an incident that took place in the Village of Wellsville in 2008. O’Neill was located crossing the Rainbow Bridge by US Border Patrol and taken into custody. Wellsville Police transported O’Neill to Wellsville where he was processed and arraigned before Wellsville Village Justice Thompson. O’Neill was remanded to the Allegany County Jail without bail. O’Neill is due back in Wellsville Village Court on October 3rd at 4:30 pm”

Fifteen years after O’Neill committed a sexual assault in the village of Wellsville, he may have thought his crime was behind him when he decided to travel over the Rainbow Bridge from Canada into the United States. When O’Neill hit the border crossing, agents noticed an outstanding warrant from the village of Wellsville and quickly called the Wellsville Police Department.

Within hours, Wellsville Police Department Sgt. Thomas Fanton was on the border to take custody of O’Neill. The accused was transported to the Allegany County Jail and held without bail.

O’Neill may have avoided his crimes had it not been for the diligence and persistence of longtime Wellsville Police Department officer, now Lieutenant Josh Kear.

After recieving the complaint from a Wellsville resident in 2015, a lack of evidence in the case threatened to give the Canadian resident an opportunity to escape justice. A request by Allegany County District Attorney Keith Slep for an arrest warrant was initially denied.

Kear, known as a persistent investigator, continued to work on the case and bring O’Neill back to Wellsville to be held accountable. A call to the Toronto Police Department Sex Crimes Unit provided key information. Officers in Canada were able to provide Kear with enough information on O’Neill to re-apply for a warrant. Officers in Toronto confirmed that O’Neill was a known sexual offender who had assaulted a 5 year old child in Canada.

In early 2018, then Wellsville Village Justice Chris O’Connor signed a warrant for O’Neill’s arrest on felony criminal sex act in the first degree. While O’Neill was still outside Kear’s jurisdiction, the warrant was filed should the suspect ever attempt to re-enter the United States.

Five years later, the diligence and patience paid off when O’Neill attempted to cross the border early this week.

He was arrested on felony charges and now resides in the Allegany County Jail awaiting justice.

Anyone with any information related to Patrick O’Neill should contact the Wellsville Police Department, 585 593 5600.

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