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City Working on Local Law to Put Restrictions on Sex Offenders

City officials are looking into enacting a local ordinance to restrict access to certain areas, such as schools or city parks.

Peabody is joining the effort to restrict where the most serious of sex offenders live, work and play in the Tanner City, because currently there are no legal restrictions on their activity in the community.

The issue came to light for Mayor Ted Bettencourt after a parent emailed him a couple weeks ago, saying she saw two Level 3 sex offenders at three times that week and she wondered if the city could do something about it. That email was also later sent to School Committee members.

"Level 3" is one of three categories used by the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board and, according to state authorities, covers individuals convicted of sexual offenses who have a high likelihood to reoffend -- they are considered a danger to public safety.

There are currently 12 registered Level 3 offenders in Peabody, according to the registry board.

The Peabody mother had notified police on each occasion, but was told nothing could be done on their end as long as the men weren't breaking the law. She said the men were actually looking for cans in trash barrels and one of them made a "rude sexual comment" to her on the third night. As a result, she and another mother were filing police reports.

She said she did her own research online and discovered that a just small number of cities and towns actually have local ordinances in place to restrict sex offenders from schools, parks, children's camps, elderly faciities, etc.

"I am shocked that these predators are allowed to be near children," the woman said.

After looking into the matter himself, Bettencourt said, he was equally "shocked" to learn there were no blanket restrictions from state authorities on the activities or proximity of Level 3 offenders to schools, parks and the like.

"There has got to be something." That was Bettencourt's first reaction to the news, but he said he discovered that it is, in fact, just up to each community to draft a local law to impose any restrictions.

Bettencourt informed the School Committee last week that he was having the city's legal team research the available options and he planned to bring a proposal to the City Council soon for approval. The committee, in turn, agreed to send a letter to the council urging it of the need of such a law.

"I think the city of Peabody needs to seriously look at this," Bettencourt told Peabody Patch after the meeting, calling it simply a measure for "protection of our youth."

He said he hopes to have a proposal to the council by the end of the month or early in July. Once the council votes, according to Bettencourt, that's the only approval needed for the ordinance to become law.

Level 2 and Level 3 offenders are only required to register with the local police department and those individuals' names, addresses and pictures are then made available to the public.

Any restrictive conditions placed upon sex offenders are imposed by a judge under terms of probation or by the parole board.

Police Chief Robert Champagne said Monday he is conferring with Bettencourt and legal staff on how best to implement a local ordinance.

Declining to go into specifics, he simply said Bettencourt has brought some good, creative ideas to the table.

"I think he’s being proactive on the issue," said Champagne. “It’s a difficult thing," he said, noting concerns for public safety while also not infringing on the rights of offenders who have served their time.

"Judges are very cognizant of putting restrictions on them…but when someone’s a free man, they get to roam the streets as you and I,” Champagne said.

"But there are folks who do represent a danger to the community and we want to know where they are,” he said.

Currently, only about 20 cities and towns in the Bay State have enacted "sex offender-free zones" or "child safety zones" or otherwise placed restrictions on where convicted Level 3 sex offenders can live in a community. And many of those laws have been challenged in the court system on constitutional grounds.

Massachusetts has not joined the approximately two dozen states that have adopted similar statewide laws since 1996, according to information from the Council of State Governments, thereby leaving that work to local officials.

The most recent battle over this issue has taken place just across the city line in Lynn, which is home to 64 registered Level 3 sex offenders, according to the state registry board.

Lynn officials had discussed adopting an ordinance since at least 2009. After implementing the law, five Level 3 offenders filed suit and are being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, according to the Daily Item of Lynn.

The most recent iteration of the law prohibits Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools, daycare centers, parks or playgrounds. Those who live within the "exclusion zones" are required to move or else face a fine of $300 per day.

Part of the plaintiffs' argument in that case is that the "exclusion zones" cover most of the geographic area of the city and nearly all its available housing.


Stay with Peabody Patch this week for more on this issue.

pamela boucher June 19, 2012 at 11:04 AM
if they are free and they don't do it again and a reform citizen, they should be able to live where they want to ok
Peabody Parent June 19, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Pamela, Maybe you are not are a parent or have done your research. Sex offenders have high recidivism rates and the reality is that all we do is put them in jail. When it fact there are probally more mental and emotional issues tied to their crimes. Just look at what is going on at Penn State and have empathy on the parents that are trying to protect their children so then can fill a little bit safer and allow their children to go play in the parks and playgrounds without have to be right next to them....
skip dabus June 19, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Pamela, your ignorance is shocking but not suprising. maybe you should do your homework before speaking on such matters. These people have have already served their time, who are you to say what needs to be done!
MShribman June 19, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Child predators cannot be 'cured" and always present a risk to children when allowed unsupervised access. The rights of innocent children FAR outweighs the rights of child rapists and molesters. And just because you serve your legal sentence (or John Slattery gets you off entirely), does not mean that you are entitled to be within a mile of my child!!!! (Or any other child). Serving time in prison doesn't cure or change the threat in any way.
Peter June 19, 2012 at 02:04 PM
No, no they shouldn't.
T Mavrogeorge June 19, 2012 at 02:06 PM
It is pretty naive to believe that a stint in prison changes anything for these perverts. They never change. I would ask anyone who is concerned for the "rights" off these despicable monsters if they would turn their back on their child while a predator was exercising his right to hang around the playground? I believe in incarcerating those who destroy the lives of the innocent for life. (or executing them). Those who support the child pornography/rape industry should go away for a ten year minimum.
SoHo June 19, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I want to thank Teddy and that beautiful mother who are working so hard to keep our children safe. Peabody is the greatest City to live in and soon to be the safest for our children. Thank you again for your endless never tiring hard work...
Jen Fiorentino June 19, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Seeing that the city is doing something about this just made my day! I was at Cy Tenny a couple of weeks ago and was one of the moms that called the police. There was just something off about those men and had I known then, for sure, that they were sex offenders, I would have made my call much more urgent. It wasn't until later that night when I posted something on Facebook my suspitions were confirmed. My page blew up and my status was shared over and over. Sex offenders are a huge deal and I'm glad this issue is getting the attention it deserves! It chills me to my core that these sickos were so close to my children! I do not believe sex offenders can be "cured or "rehabilitated" and under no circumstances should they be allowed near children or the places where they play. Thank you to all who are taking steps to make these places safer for our kids! Hopefully other cities and towns will follow your lead Peabody.
Rudy101 June 19, 2012 at 09:15 PM
The sex offender board is an executive board that rules people dangerous, but are not legally dangerous. What that means, is that there is not enough evidence that people rated as dangerous to lock them up. It also means that non-dangerous people are routinely rated as dangerous. A community who believes that they can take the place of a court and start to tell people where they can live and where they can't live is not a, "free community." Everyone has their opinion on THOSE people and feel entitled to make that opinion into public policy. Does anyone see where this ends? Ultimately it ends that there are two segments of society. One is the ones who are caught and legislated dangerous and thereby banished and the ones who didn't get caught. On another note, putting out registry information in unlimited ways in order for society to isolate that person both socially and physically is ILLEGAL, as a matter of law. When society does these things, it becomes a RIGHT to leave the registry and do whatever what one can do to avoid the registry. You all don't get it, I know. But to regulate people you need a court of law and fair restrictions based upon specific characteristics of each individual. Them, those and THEY are not legally valid.
K. S. C. June 19, 2012 at 09:43 PM
As the mother of three small children, I have thought twice about going to that park. However we never know who anybody at the park, field or rink really is. Good for the mother who brought this up. She obviously pays attention. How many other people even look up the Registry? As parents we just all need to PAY ATTENTION. Go to the park and look at parents in the car, on an iPad or phone, or reading a book while their kids play in the park. Pay attention to your kids and the people around them! How would such an ordinance be enforceable? What about unintended consequences? Similar ordinances in other areas have been blamed for "losing" sex offenders as they've been forced out of jobs and homes. Isn't it better to be able to keep track of them? Would such an ordinance really make our kids safer? What about a murderer, kidnapper, or gangmember? Or someone who hasn't been caught. (IE youth worker in Middleton years ago who molested hundreds of kids) They are still there. What about someone who was out partying in college 15 years ago and was convicted of open and gross lewdness(public urination) which requires registration. (wrong, but not something to be banned for). I agree with Pamela. They served their time; be aware but leave them be. If they are truly a danger to society, then we need to revamp the system so they are treated as such and not released! Because if they can't go to the park, they still need to grocery shop and our kids are there as well.
Mike June 20, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Wow there are tons of lies being spread here. Specially the guy saying reoffending rate is high.....then even told somebody to do their homework before they speak......rofl.....its 5.3% Its the 2nd lowest crime to be repeated.......look it up on the us department of justice webpage.....hell look at each state and their own studies done some list it at around 2% like new york For the guy saying kill them all your just ignorant white trash you have little kids charged with sex crimes as young as 6 years old so maybe you should start yout murdering spree with the children and work your way up you only havr to kill 800,000 or more in this country and growing larger by the day
Mike June 20, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Btw placing restrictions on where people can live doesnt work for many reasons for one it only counts on where they sleep during the night not where they are during the day. Also it doesnt stop anybody registered or not from taking your kids people have cars you know and can drive to the next city......furthermore when you push people into homelessness and away from support and therapy you now can cause a breakdown and thus reoffend
Mike June 20, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Id also like to point out,stranger danger is very rare your child will more than likely be molested by somebody they already know like aunt susan or uncle bob or the family hair dresser or the priest not by hank the sex offender down the street....so much that 92% of all sex offenses are commited by people already known such as family members
Mike June 20, 2012 at 01:20 AM
This is just another fear and paranoia campaign spread by politicians to get votes without doing anything other than kicking around sex offenders and making the public unsafe, causing the tax payers money in court battles and supporting the sex offenders family, along with the possibility of being the worlds laughing stock if it gets to miamis level of destruction of human rights when all the sex offenders forced to live under a bridge made world news and cost the tax payers more when international demand made them buy all sex offender hotel rooms for months and now they are dumping them all in vacant parking lots and once again getting attention from the world
Shelly Stow June 20, 2012 at 01:53 AM
I'm not sure I'm following your first sentence. However, I am a parent, and one of a daughter who was molested as a child by an uncle. Also, I have done my research, but you apparently haven't because your next sentence is the opposite of what research shows us. Sex offenders on the registry have the lowest of all recidivism rates with the exceptions of those who commit murder. Most convicted sex offenders do not commit another crime. These types of restrictions do nothing to keep children safe for several reasons. First, do you really believe that someone intent on harming a child will stay away from a park just because there is a law? Secondly, children are not at risk of molestation by registered offenders in parks or anywhere else. They are at risk of molestation by those they know and trust in their own homes and other routine places in their daily lives where they should feel safe and their parents believe they are safe. They are much more likely to be molested by the trusted person who takes them to the park than by some nameless, faceless stranger on the registry walking through the park.
Shelly Stow June 20, 2012 at 02:00 AM
I understand your desire to protect your children, but you don't get to just make up information that fits your opinions. First, very few on the registry are "predators." Secondly if those you so label cannot be cured and "always present a risk," please show me the research you consulted that gave you this information because it is the exact opposite of that which I have read and studied that shows an extremely low recidivism rate for those on the registry. When you are looking at some of that research, pay close attention to the fact that almost all child molestation is committed by those close to the child, those who have a regular and frequent contact and relationship with the child, often family members and often those living in the same house with the child. The threat to your child is not where you are looking, and that puts your child at even greater risk. Please learn the facts if you really want to protect your child.
Non Citizen June 20, 2012 at 12:09 PM
People who want these "park bans", etc. are nothing more than a group of un-American criminals who are stealing from U.S. citizens. Do you know what people who cannot leave other people alone are called? Terrorists. People who want these laws and your nanny big governments: Mind your own business. Stop harassing other people. Take care of yourself. And please, please pay some taxes to support your big governments. Lastly, I have a question for the terrorists: What are you people doing to ensure that your new, worthless ban will be applied to everyone who has ever committed a serious crime against another person? There is no legitimate excuse to apply it only to "sex offenders", who in fact, don't actually molest children in parks.
Allan Davis June 20, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Most interesting is that rather than protecting children, it has been proven that residency laws actually put more children at risk. Three things lead to non-reoffending, stable housing, employment, and access to facilities. When a town writes laws that the state realizes doesn't work, it is truly the result of politicians using the city's children for their own political gain. My question to the town fathers would be, "Why would you be willing to increase the risk of more re-offending, and more molested children for your own personal political gain?"
Shelly Stow June 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM
"Pay attention to your kids and the people around them!" Excellent, excellent advice. Studies have always shown, and people have always known, that the ones who will molest your children are family members and other close and trusted people who are in the children's lives on a daily basis. Everyone reading this, if you have been molested, if you have a child who has been, or if you know others who have been, it is possible that 1 out of 20 or 25 were victims of a stranger; the odds will be remarkable higher that they were victims of a stranger already on the registry for a previous offense. For everyone else, it will have been someone you already knew, someone you had trusted and possibly even loved. I have three family members who were childhood victims, all of close relatives. I know many former offenders and former victims; the stories are the same: relatives and close friends. I remember an Oprah show with 100 men who had been molested as children, every one at the hand of "...my father;" "...my brother;" "my youth pastor;" "...my grandfather." And yet we spend many millions adding to the registry and passing ordinances on keeping people out of parks and away from schools. All that does is keep registrants from participating in the lives of their own children. Teach your children, not to be afraid of strangers but to never go or be alone with someone they don't know, and teach them what to do if anybody--ANYBODY--makes them scared or uncomfortable.
T Mavrogeorge June 20, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Of course the odds are greater that a child will be molested by a known or "trusted" individual. Perverts are very good at insinuating themselves into situations where they have access to children. That is what they do and how they operate. So it is always good advice to be aware. That fact does not mean that there are not strangers with evil intentions lurking in the bushes either. It is not an either/or proposition. We need to stop child molesters at every turn. I also believe that they cannot be cured. Although some may be able to control their urges for periods, or indefinitely. I would not want to rely on that if I was a parent. I understand that many people who are on the offenders list may be there for public urination, or possibly an 18 year old dating a 16 year old, but if they have had sex with a child they get no slack from me.
Shelly Stow June 20, 2012 at 07:50 PM
No, it isn't 'either/or' as far as protecting your children. That is why I earlier said to teach your children what our parents taught us; don't talk to strangers; never go anywhere with someone you don't know. It is today's sex offender industry that has made it an 'either/or' situation and is, with the direction it has chosen, actually facilitating the endangerment of children. Regardless of what you think about who can or can't be 'cured' or whether a 'trusted' individual is a 'pervert' who has 'insinuated' his way in or is the child victim's uncle, every study done, some starting ten years before the registry went public and continuing today, shows that 95% of s**xual crime is committed by those who have no record for such offenses and are therefore not on the registry; for children it is higher. Yet 100% of our resources are directed to the registry and registrants. Even if--big IF--the registry helped, it would help, at the very most, 5% of the time. I would like to see just some of those resources directed toward the other 95%. My daughter was part of that 95%; so was my sister. If even half of the money spent on the registry was directed to victim services, awareness and prevention programs, and treatment programs for offenders based on valid and proven techniques, we could accomplish more in ten years toward slowing and stopping the molestation of our children than the registry has done in twenty or ever will do.
Non Citizen June 20, 2012 at 07:59 PM
People who want these "park bans", etc. are nothing more than a group of un-American criminals who are stealing from U.S. citizens. Do you know what people who cannot leave other people alone are called? Terrorists. People who want these laws and your nanny big governments: Mind your own business. Stop harassing other people. Take care of yourself. And please, please pay some taxes to support your big governments. Lastly, I have a question for the terrorists: What are you people doing to ensure that your new, worthless ban will be applied to everyone who has ever committed a serious crime against another person? There is no legitimate excuse to apply it only to "sex offenders", who in fact, don't actually molest children in parks.
skip dabus June 20, 2012 at 08:16 PM
"Perverts are very good at insinuating themselves into situations where they have access to children." Is this what you do? "That is what they do and how they operate." And you know this how? Are you an expert with this technique? "That fact does not mean that there are not strangers with evil intentions lurking in the bushes either." Are you sure they leap out of bushes? Your an idiot ,, yep watch out for those tall bushes kids, the boogie man may be hiding on the other side. WTF! You are a complete moron! How? its not the ones who have been convicted and have had treatment you need to worry about, its the people who still haven't been helped yet aka the " bush lurkers". " I also believe that they cannot be cured." but your an idiot so you don't count! : I understand that many people who are on the offenders list may be there for public urination, or possibly an 18 year old dating a 16 year old," I DON'T REALLY THINK YOU DO! " but if they have had sex with a child they get no slack from me" and you can tell who these people are how? The way they look? Oh yea because they go to parks right? Your an IDIOT !
Shelly Stow June 20, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Skip, I mean no disrespect to you, sir, but if you would, do me a favor, please. First, read my response to Mr. Mavrogeorge. Then read your response. Do you agree that we are both saying essentially the same thing to him? Now, assuming that your intent is the same as mine, to get him to think about what he believes to be true about registrants and to consider the facts about what is needed to further the safety of children, which response is he more likely to actually think about, and which is more likely to make him angry? I understand your anger. I also understand his desire to protect children. So many people truly do not know the truth about the registry. If we can get them to do a little research and look at a few studies and think about a few facts, we have have accomplished something positive. I hope I don't offend you; that is not at all my intent.
Lisa Connors September 10, 2012 at 02:15 PM
I have a simple question...if the level 3 sex offender in the article was reformed and according to "research" has a 5.3% chance if reoffending, then why in hell is he hanging around in parks digging thru trash...aren't there any trash can anywhere else in Peabody??
Non Citizen November 02, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Are you people who love these panacea Registries stupid? I like to call it being Registry Stupid. The vast majority of people who are listed on the nanny big government Registries in this country are just regular people who did something wrong. They are no different than you. They like to go to parks just as anyone else does and there is literally no reason at all why they should not. Stop harassing people and stop trying to steal from the people that you have putting on your handy little harassment list.

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