BOSTON -- The fight to block the release of serial child sex predator Wayne W. Chapman went to the Supreme Judicial Court Tuesday, where a victim's lawyer said claims the 71-year-old Chapman was no longer sexually dangerous were "laughable," while his own lawyer said his psychiatrists' assessment should be trusted.
Chapman has admitted to sexually abusing some 100 boys in the United States and Canada, starting when he was 7, SJC court records state. He was convicted in 1977. But under a 2009 decision, if two qualified examiners -- as set forth by the Legislature -- find the subject no longer "sexually dangerous," they can be released. Two examiners ruled Chapman no longer dangerous, but his release was stayed as he faced new charges of lewd behavior behind bars.
Attorney Wendy Murphy, who represents one of Chapman's abuse victims and three other persons she said have been impacted by his crimes, proposed Tuesday expanding the statute to hold an offender cleared for discharge an additional 14 days while a judge reviews and assesses the reliability of the examiners' conclusions.
"The idea that anyone would characterize Wayne Chapman as no longer sexually dangerous is laughable," Murphy said after the hearing. "No one wants to violate the rights of civilly committed sex offenders, but I think everyone wants there to be more accountability. This case is Exhibit A in the big pile of proof that the system is currently not working as it should from the perspective of public safety.
Though never charged, Chapman has long been a suspect in the unsolved Aug. 21, 1976, disappearance of 10-year-old Andy Puglisi from a public swimming pool in Lawrence.
Documentary filmmaker Melanie Perkins McLaughlin was Puglisi's childhood friend.
"I've been studying Wayne Chapman for 20 years and I know the totality of Wayne Chapman's offenses," she said. "Wayne Chapman is a sadistic, serial sex offender who will offend if he's released."
Chapman's attorney, Eric Tennen, said he understands the skepticism over whether his client is trustworthy. He argued outside the courtroom that's precisely why independent physicians are best suited to make that call.
"That is why this is in place, to not allow emotion to control the situation, but logic and expertise. The Legislature drew that line at two qualified examiners ... Given his circumstances, he is not a danger to reoffend sexually. He is not capable of living independently. He can't harm anyone in the way the statute envisions," Tennen said of the wheelchair-bound Chapman.
In addition to his court-ordered discharge being stayed, Chapman is being held on $25,000 bail while he awaits a June trial on new charges of lewd sexual misconduct at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley.
"He would like to be released," Tennen said. "He needs to go to a facility that can take care of his medical needs and probably would care for him better than the Department of Correction."