Lawmakers Push To Revamp Sex Offender Bill

Measure would make names of lower-level offenders public

By Jim Morrison
BU News Service

BOSTON – Area lawmakers are backing a move to dust off a bill that would make public the names of lower-level sexual offenders in the wake of a case where a convicted sex offender is charged with more than 100 counts of molesting 13 infants and toddlers.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, D-Winthrop, announced this week that he would re-evaluate a bill introduced by Gov. Deval Patrick last year that would expand the public release of sex offenders’ names.

“That bill should have gotten out of committee,” said state Sen. Jim Timilty, D-Walpole, who chairs the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. “That information should be made readily available.”

State Rep. Dan Winslow, R-Norfolk, who sits on the Judiciary Committee where that bill got stuck this summer, supports publishing the names of Level 1 sex offenders.

“I support more information rather than less,” he said.

“I’m definitely in favor of strengthening the law and have been for a very long time,” state Rep. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro said. “In fact, I’ve filed bills to change the sex offender registry laws in the past and we’re about to file another bill, too. Quite frankly, we should be more actively seeking ways to protect our children and other vulnerable members of society from these criminals.”

John Burbine, 49, of Wakefield, was arraigned Wednesday on more than 100 counts of sexually abusing children in his wife Marian Burbine’s unlicensed day care business over a two-year period.

His wife was also charged with six counts of reckless endangerment of a child and two counts of operating an unlicensed day care facility.

Police reportedly seized video of Burbine and the children in what veteran Middlesex County District Attorney Gerard T. Leone called “the worst case I have ever seen.”

Burbine is a registered Level 1 sex offender, convicted in 1989 of indecent assault and battery on a child.

The parents of the victims had no idea Burbine was a convicted sex offender because the names of Level 1 sex offenders are not made public.

“That’s the very nature of these criminals,” Timilty said. “They hide out of sight.”

Sex offenders who are considered at the lowest risk to re-offend, are classified as Level 1. Level 2 offenders are thought to be at moderate risk to re-offend and Level 3 offenders are at the highest risk to re-offend.

The names of Level 2 offenders living are or working in a your community are available from the communities’ police departments.
The names of all Level 3 offenders are searchable at the state Sex Offender Registry Board: http://sorb.chs.state.ma.us/search.htm
Civil liberty advocates oppose making public the names of lower level offenders, citing fears of vigilantism. But Winslow said he didn’t share those concerns.

“I think that the publishing of the names and photos of Level 3 offenders has demonstrated that concerns about vigilantism are unfounded,” he said.

Winslow also said it would make sense to require day care providers to post their licenses in a public place.

“If we require that for elevators, shouldn’t we require that of day care providers?” he asked.

Timilty said he was hopeful the “horrible, awful case” would lead to better protections.

“When it comes to the protection of our children, that’s got to be our highest priority,” he said.

The article is also featured on The Sun Chronicle

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