Court: Mass. Must Meet Deadlines On Sex Offenders
BOSTON — The highest court in Massachusetts has thrown out a request to hold a Level 3 sex offender beyond his sentence after prosecutors missed a mandatory deadline.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled Monday in the case of David Gangi, a sex offender who was serving time for indecent assault and battery on a person over 14.
Gangi, 72, has four convictions, according to the Sex Offender Registry Board, including two others for indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 and one for indecent assault and battery on a person under 14. Level 3 offenders are considered to have a high risk to re-offend, according to the state’s classification system.
The law allows prosecutors to seek civil commitment of offenders beyond their prison sentences.
Once a judge finds probable cause the person is “sexually dangerous,” the person is committed to a treatment center for up to 60 days while examiners evaluate him or her and make a recommendation to the court.
Prosecutors acknowledged that Gangi’s commitment exceeded the 60-day maximum, but said it was due to a court clerk error.
The SJC said the delay was not justified and dismissed the petition to commit Gangi.
“Because `extraordinary circumstances’ are not present, we do not consider whether the sixteen extra days of Gangi’s confinement constitute a `very brief’ delay,” Justice Barbara Lenk wrote in the unanimous ruling. “Absent `extraordinary circumstances,’ any violation of the sixty-day statutory deadline, however brief, requires dismissal.”
A spokeswoman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said Monday that the court’s decision takes effect in 29 days and Gangi would be eligible for release from custody at that time.
Gangi’s lawyer, John Fennel, did not immediately return calls seeking comment.