A well-known victims’ rights activist believes Massachusetts has it all wrong when it comes to stopping convicted sex offenders from repeating their crimes
A well-known victims’ rights activist believes Massachusetts has it all wrong when it comes to stopping convicted sex offenders from repeating their crimes.
“We should be determining their dangerousness when they are on their way into prison,” Wendy Murphy, legal analyst and adjunct professor at New England School of Law, said Thursday.
Murphy was critical recently of Bristol Superior Court Judge Richard Moses for allowing a child molester out of prison over the objections of prosecutors and three psychologists who argued the man, Corey Saunders, still posed a danger.
Saunders, 26, was arrested last month in connection with the alleged rape of a 6-year-old boy at a public library in New Bedford.
It also was Moses who decided that David C. Flavell, 38, of Brockton, another Level 3 sex offender, should be released from a state treatment facility for sexual predators two years ago.
Flavell is now facing misdemeanor charges for allegedly following a 36-year-old Holbrook woman into the bathroom at Borders bookstore in Braintree and poking his head under the stall to look at her Jan. 29.
Bristol County prosecutors sought to keep both Flavell and Saunders locked up as sexually dangerous persons.
State law allows a sexual predator to continue being held in custody as a result of a civil commitment even after his prison sentence has ended. The case could come up for review at a later date.
“Moses had the capacity to ignore the experts,” Murphy said. “I don’t know if it’s a political agenda or personal. How many bites of the apple is Judge Moses going to get?”
Murphy said a convicted sex offender should have to prove that treatment worked before being released.
Right now, prosecutors must convince a judge that the sexual predator will likely re-offend so he should remain in custody despite completing his sentence.
“We look at what happened rather than the nature of the person, and their addiction and compulsion,” Murphy said. “We never lock them up long enough.”
David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk County district attorney’s office that is prosecuting Flavell for the Braintree incident, said Thursday that District Attorney William Keating would have no comment because the case was pending.
Traub did say that the misdemeanor charges Flavell is facing don’t qualify for prosecutors to ask a judge to schedule a dangerousness hearing.
Flavell, who is homeless, is being held in lieu of $10,000 cash bail.
Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said between 2005 and 2007, the state’s 11 district attorneys reviewed 4,602 cases of convicted sex offenders. Of that number, prosecutors filed 254 sexually dangerous person petitions with the courts.
“We look at them very seriously,” Cruz said. “We only go forward with the really dangerous guys.”
Cruz and others spearheaded efforts a few years ago to tighten up loopholes to keep sex criminals in custody after their sentences expired.
The move came following the highly publicized murder of a 30-year-old Rhode Island woman at a Burger King at a Route 24 rest stop in Bridgewater in 2002.
“What is very disconcerting is that there are judges allowing dangerous people back into the community to commit crimes,” Cruz said.
Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter couldn’t be reached for comment.
Sutter’s predecessor, Paul Walsh, sought civil commitments for Flavell and Saunders.
Dennis Tatz may be reached at email@example.com.
The Patriot Ledger