Massachusetts Considering Adding Level 2 Sex Offenders To Internet Registry

The Lowell Sun is reporting about a proposed Massachusetts law that would greatly expand the community notification requirements for Level 2 sex offenders in Massachusetts.

In August 2009, a Level-2 sex offender was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at Westford’s town beach.

The man, who moved from Florida to Westford, was listed on Florida’s online sex-offender registry, but not on Massachusetts’. The reason: Only Level-3 sex offenders are listed online in Massachusetts.

Some believe it is time to put the names, photos and addresses of Level-2 sex offenders on the Internet, as well. They say it is a simple, common-sense step to creating safer communities.

Leading the cause in the Legislature is state Rep. Jim Arciero, a Westford Democrat. Arciero recently filed a bill to put Level-2 sex offenders on the state’s Internet sex-offender database.

Arciero said he was contacted by dozens of Westford residents in the aftermath of the incident at the town beach who were outraged they did not have access to the same information about sex offenders as other states.

“This simple act will move us forward in protecting families and children in our neighborhoods,” said Arciero. “Level-2 offenders are dangerous people, and we need to have the tools to protect our communities.”

Information about Level-2 sex offenders is available to the public, but anyone interested in getting it must fill out a form and make the request to the state Sex Offender Registry Board or their local police department. Arciero calls this “cumbersome,” and many other lawmakers and public-safety officials agree.

Arciero’s bill has been co-sponsored by 36 fellow legislators in the House and Senate. It has also been endorsed by police chiefs in Littleton, Chelmsford and Westford, as well as Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.

Littleton Police Chief John Kelly said the bill will help protect children who may be “victimized by sexually deviant perpetrators.

“The foremost proactive manner in which to do this is through information and education, and this proposed legislation will do just that,” said Kelly.

While state officials consider the crime when labeling sex offenders as Level 1, 2 or 3, the Sex Offender Registry Board decides how to classify offenders based on the likelihood that they will commit more sex crimes. That means those who have committed the most egregious crimes aren’t always categorized as Level-3 offenders.

Laurie Myers, a child-protection advocate from Chelmsford, has been pushing for more transparency within the sex-offender registry for years. She said offenders classified as Level 2 have been convicted of crimes such as rape of a child with force and indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

“Because they are in a stable living environment or receiving counseling, these offenders are classified as Level 2,” said Myers. “Level-3 offenders are typically those who abuse alcohol or drugs or are homeless.”

Myers, a former rape-crisis counselor in Lowell and co-founder of Community Voices, a Chelmsford-based watch-dog group, said putting Level-2 sex offenders online will help parents keep their children safe.

To illustrate this, she uses a hypothetical example of a mother whose daughter is invited to a sleep-over party where the mother of her daughter’s friend has a live-in boyfriend who is a Level-2 sex offender. The mother could use the online database to decide whether to allow her daughter to spend the night at her friend’s house, said Myers.

“That’s what this tool is for,” said Myers. “When people go and see who these guys are, at least they can make an informed decision.”

Arciero is not the first legislator to get behind this cause. Several lawmakers, including Evangelidis before he was elected sheriff, filed a bill last year to change the law, but it was not enacted. During last year’s gubernatorial campaign, Republican Charlie Baker made it a campaign issue.

Arciero hopes the cause will be helped this year by the fact that if Massachusetts does not meet minimum sex-offender registration standards established by the federal Adam Walsh Act, it risks losing $600,000 in public-safety funding.

“I think we can get the necessary votes to make this happen,” he said.

Expanding the dissemination of information of Massachusetts Level 2 sex offenders would be devastating for many registered offenders. It would vastly expand the number of Massachusetts sex offenders whose home, work, and educational information is splashed across the Internet and will reduce the utility of the site run by the Sex Offender Registry Board, which presently only lists the highest risk Massachusetts Level 3 sex offenders.

If you are a Level 2 sex offender in Massachusetts a have questions regarding your Massachusetts sex offender classification or wants assistance in reviewing or seeking sex offender reclassification, you need a Boston sex offender attorney. Please contact Attorney Crouch at (617) 441-5111 or email him to set up a free, initial consultation. To request further information please contact us.