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Nov. 26 trial for sex offender’s suit against Ayer

Nashoba Publishing/Mary Arata
U.S. District Court/Boston

BOSTON -John and Ashley King hoped to bring their first born, due Friday, home to 6 Whitcomb Avenue in Ayer. Their hopes were dashed Tuesday when the couple was denied a preliminary injunction against the Ayer Police Department.

John King, a Level 3 sex offender, was arrested by the Ayer police on May 15 after being seen leaving 6 Whitcomb Avenue. King was charged with violating state law which requires that adjudicated sex offenders register with police departments in towns where they live or work.

King claims, however, that he properly notified the Ayer police of his intention to move into the house on April 19. King alleges that Ayer Police Chief William Murray personally tried to “stall” King upon learning of a snafu with the new sex-offender by-law.

The by-law, passed by Town Meeting in Oct. 2011, bars Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, park or senior housing complex. The Whitcomb Avenue house is located within 1,000 feet of both Pirone Park and the Pond Street elder housing complex.

King alleges Murray lobbied the selectmen to prompt Town Clerk John Canney to quickly effectuate the by-law by posting it in 5 public places as required. The posting occurred on April 24 – six days after King claims he made initial contact with the Ayer Police.

Swomley & Tennen, the Kings’ attorneys, filed suit against Murray and the Town of Ayer on Sept. 5. The Kings seek damages for loss of consortium, mental anguish, emotional distress, embarrassment, damage to reputation, and reimbursement for John King’s criminal defense following his May arrest.

The Kings are asking the court to strike down Ayer’s Sex Offender Residency Bylaw as unconstitutional. The couple also sought preliminary relief against the Ayer Police to prevent officers from arresting John King for residing at the Whitcomb Avenue house. The couple now lives in Harvard with Ashley King’s parents.

U.S. District Court Judge William Young said he would take no action on the injunction request until there was a “trial with evidence” and suggested Monday, Oct. 29 for a jury-waived trial. The parties ultimately agreed on a Nov. 26 trial date.

The Sex Offender Registration Board website states King was convicted in 2001 of rape and indecent assault and battery on a person aged 14 or older.

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