An Iraqi War veteran, who has worked for the past 24 years with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department as a correction officer at the county jail in Yaphank, is now behind bars, accused by District Attorney Tim Sini and Southampton Town police of being a predatory sex offender, who abused mentally and physically challenged boys he had adopted over the years.
Robert Weis, 55, was charged with one count of “course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree.” If found guilty of that one charge, Weis could be sentenced to 25 years in state prison, Sini said during a press conference following Weis’s arraignment in Southampton Town Justice Court Friday morning, April 5.
The alleged victim is now an adult. The incidents of abuse, which included anal sex, were said to have occurred when the victim was between the ages seven and 16, according to the DA. The abuse ended around the year 2000.
Sini said that the victim walked into police headquarters last month, and disclosed to detectives what had allegedly happened to him. The DA said the victim had undergone therapy for an extended period of time, as he tried to cope with what had allegedly happened to him in his childhood. “It can take years for someone to overcome the trauma,” Sini said.
In addition, Weis, a Hampton Bays resident, was charged with three felony counts of criminal possession of unregistered handguns. Police said they recovered a .45 caliber Colt, a .32 Calber Walther PPK, and a Luger-style 9 mm. In addition, another felony count was brought against Weis for alleged criminal possession of stolen property. He was charged with a misdemeanor charge of improper official conduct as well. Sini said that Weis was “in possession of stolen property from a Suffolk County correctional facility, including bullet-proof vests, handcuffs, EMT equipment, and other items.”
A deeply disturbing find by police, Sini said, was that when they raided Weis’s house at 4 Sunset Street Wednesday, April 3, they found “36 long guns, and 50,000 rounds of ammunition.”
Weis is also facing a charge of child sex abuse out of Columbia, SC, that was first brought in 2016. Details of that case are unknown, other than the fact that it has not yet been adjudicated.
Bail was set Friday for Weis by Southampton Town Justice Barbara Wilson at $1 million, with a $3 million bond alternative option.
While he has only been charged with one sexual offense classified as a violent crime, police believe there are more victims.
“Because of his history, including other allegations of sexual abuse, and the fact that he had access to so many vulnerable people, it certainly gives rise to concern that this victim might not be his only victim,” said Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki at the press conference.
The chief asked that anyone with knowledge of past crimes, especially the victims, contact detectives with his department, by calling 631-702-2230. All calls will be kept confidential. “If there is anyone out there who has been victimized by this defendant, please call us,” the chief said.
One of the difficulties in bringing charges for crimes alleged to have occurred prior to 2000, Sini explained, is that the statute of limitations for many of the crimes they believe Weis committed may have run out.
That is not true, however, with the charge that was brought this week, “course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree.” As with rape in the first degree, there is no statute of limitations for that charge.
In court, the assistant district attorney handling the case, Laurie Moroff, of the Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Bureau, said that Weis had “sleepovers” for friends of his five adopted sons, during which he would abuse and fondle the other boys.
Besides the five boys that Weis adopted, he also acted as a foster parent to many more troubled youths over the years, Sini said, though the exact number is not known. Besides the alleged victim, the other four boys Weis adopted are now adults and still live at the Hampton Bays residence. The Suffolk County Social Services Department has been contacted, Moroff said, to assist with one of the four remaining in the house.
Beyond the sexual allegations, and the three unregistered handguns police found when they raided the house at the time of Weis’s arrest, police uncovered a horde of what they believe to be child pornography. The title on one of the DVDs is “Age is Just a Number,” Moroff said at Weis’s arraignment. The DVDs are being
reviewed by investigators.
Weis’s attorney, James O’Shea, said that his client owned, besides the house in Hampton Bays, property in upstate New York, and in Texas, where he was planning to move. Wilson quizzed Weis about the Texas property. “I was planning on moving to Texas. I was planning on retiring next year,” Weis responded.
If Weis was unable to post bail, he would have needed to be indicted by a grand jury by Tuesday, April 9.
The charges against Weis could mushroom in an indictment brought by a grand jury, pending the outcome of the police investigation, which was described during the press conference as “active and ongoing.”
During his arraignment, Wilson asked about Weis’s military record. “I served in the army,” Weis said, adding that his reserve unit was deployed to Iraq in 2004.
Also on hand for the press conference was Suffolk County Undersheriff Steven Kuehhas. He said that when the South Carolina charge was brought, Weis had his gun taken away from him by the sheriff’s department, and he was placed in the quartermaster’s department.
O’Shea asked Wilson that his client be segregated out of the common prison population. The judge responded that that would be at the discretion of the sheriff’s department. Kuehhas said after the press conference that Weis would likely not even be held in Suffolk County for his own protection. He could be locked up as far away as Rikers Island in New York City.
Weis remained in custody as of Tuesday, April 9.