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Ayer man arrested for failing to register as Level 2 sex offender

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AYER — Ayer police arrested a Williams Street resident for failing to inform the Sex Offender Registry Board that he’d moved from Shirley to Ayer. Herbert Racine, 43, of 14 Williams Street was arrested on July 25.

It started on July 21, when Shirley police asked the Ayer police to serve a summons on Racine for failure to notify authorities of his change of address, as is required under the law. Ayer police Lt. Brian Gill said the Ayer police opened an investigation that led to Racine’s arrest on July 25.

Racine was convicted on May 6, 1993 on one count of rape and is classified as a Level 2 sex offender. Level 2 sex offenders are deemed to be at moderate risk of reoffense. Information about Level 2 sex offenders living and working in Ayer is available upon request through the Ayer Police Department, as well as the Sex Offender Registry Board.

The 14 Williams St. home has become notorious in recent months. Neighbors banded together this past spring to ask the selectmen for help in forcing the owner to remove piles of demolition and automotive debris from the yard. The owner of the mult-family property is Hugh Ernisse, himself a Level 2 sex offender who lives across the street from the Ayer school complex on Washington Street.

Appearing before the selectmen in April, Ernisse said he’s providing safe haven and counseling for drug addicts at homes he owns in Ayer, Littleton and Fitchburg. He said he was working on a “drug addiction university” in his Ayer house and an “internet love university” to support drug recovery.

Also living at the Williams Street address is a Level 3 sex offender, convicted in 1980 for one count of rape and a string of subsequent convictions for open and gross lewdness. The identity of Level 3 sex offenders are disclosed more freely since the risk of reoffense is high.

And the Williams Street address was also the scene of an FBI raid in February, when another Level 3 sex offender tenant went on the lam before being captured a month and a half later in Belize. Thomas Donahue, 44, was indicted on April 27 in U.S. District Court in Worcester on federal child pornography charges for the production, distribution and possession of child pornography.

The Feb. 24 search of his Williams Street apartment produced a laptop computer, external hard drive and other equipment on which was stored several thousand photos and hundreds of videos of child pornography, including pornographic videos that depicted Donahue and a minor male. Donahue also faces charges for failing to register as a Level 3 sex offender.

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