O’Connell sponsors bill to prevent sex offender name change

By Charles Winokoor Taunton Gazette Staff Reporter

Posted Sep 18, 2019 at 7:26 PM Updated at 6:00 PM

TAUNTON – State Rep. Shaunna O’Connell, R-Taunton, wants to put an end to what she calls a loophole that allows registered sex offenders to legally change their names.

O’Connell, who is running in this year’s Taunton mayoral race, filed legislation a week ago to prohibit convicted sex offenders from changing their name to hide their identity.

She said that more than a dozen cosponsors in the House signed the bill that she says in the end will protect children and families.

A story last January by Boston 25 News reported that a Level 3 sex offender had legally changed his name in 2013.

The Brighton man reportedly changed his last name after serving time in prison, after pleading guilty in 2010 to four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

The story generated media interest, in part because of national coverage of his company’s design concept to use solar-powered pods traveling on a network of elevated public transportation tracks.

During an interview, the man said he wasn’t trying to conceal his status but that he changed his name when he wasn’t able to find a job, mainly because of search engines like Google.

O’Connell says she has no sympathy for registered sex offenders who would resort to changing their names in probate court.

“If you don’t want to be on the (sex offender) list then don’t commit sex crimes,” she said.

O’Connell said she hopes the bill will soon be heard in committee.

“I’ll do all I can as an advocate for victims’ rights to get it passed,” she added.

Limitations or prohibitions on sex offenders changing their names are now on the books in 19 other states, according to the Boston 25 story.

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