Criminals cutting deals to avoid registering as sex offenders
5 Investigates Reporter
The boys inside the gym locker room couldn’t believe what they were seeing: the man was performing a lewd act on himself, sometimes looking at them. It happened again and again over a one-week period.
The man, the police investigation found, was a physician. And the investigation uncovered more troubling allegations in the man’s past: six children in another town said he exposed himself at a community pool four years earlier.
The doctor pled guilty to four counts of open and gross lewdness in the gym locker room case and was sentenced to four months in jail.
But when the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board began the process of classifying him, he changed his plea. He pled guilty to just one count of open and
gross lewdness, and because the law requires multiple open and gross lewdness convictions in order to have to register, he remains off the registry and out of the public’s view.
Either prosecutors agree during plea negotiations or judges have to be convinced.
5 Investigates has learned that prosecutors in the doctor's case had agreed that he would not have to register. The state medical board has since reinstated his license, saying he's been successfully treated, but the board restricted his practice to adults.
“Sex offender registration is a very serious sanction,” said Bailey. “Any good defense attorney who's handling a sex offense is not just looking at liberty interests in terms of what the potential jail sentence is, but is also thinking about trying to address the long term consequences.”
5 Investigates asked the Sex Offender Registry Board and The Trial Court how often people are relieved of their obligation to register as sex offenders, but both tell us they don't track that information.
5 Investigates’ Mike Beaudet talked to the doctor recently.
“Why do you think you shouldn't have to register as a sex offender?” he asked. “Doesn't the public have a right to know about your past?”
“It does seem like your lawyer worked the system so you wouldn't have to register? Is that what happened?” Beaudet asked.
The lack of community awareness is not sitting well with Debbie Savoia who pushed for the creation of the state's sex offender registry more than two decades ago.
“Something stinks big time,” said Savoia. “Knowledge is power so the more people know the better they can protect their children.”
“Do you think this is someone who should be registered as a sex offender?” Beaudet asked.
“Oh absolutely,” replied Savoia.
Defense attorney Brad Bailey did not represent the doctor, but says he has helped people who committed sex crimes avoid having to register as sex offenders.
The deals cut by some sex offenders are now catching the attention of State Rep. Shaunna O'Connell, (R-Taunton), who has written a letter to the chief justice of the Trial Court asking how often people convicted of sex crimes are able to avoid registering as sex offenders.
“Who exactly is getting this special treatment, because it is special treatment?” asked O’Connell. “Because I think it's important that the public know exactly what the courts are doing. Who are they relieving of the duty to register? What are the crimes that have been committed? And is this putting our communities, our children, women in danger?”