Potter is referring to her former neighbor, Richard Galzerano, 58, a Level 3 sex offender who purchased a home on Daytona Road in Lynn last year. He was convicted in 2008 of enticing a child under the age of 16 and is now living in Peabody, according to the Sex Offender Registry Board.
The ACLU suit was sparked after publicity surrounding Galzerano’s case, when the city began fining him $300 per day for violating the ordinance last December. His attorney, David Grossack, said Galzerano is fighting the fines in court.
“We believe the [ordinance] has no rational relationship to legitimate government purpose,” Grossack said. “It is so punitive that it really violates basic human rights, and there’s absolutely no evidence that children or anyone is at risk because of Mr. Galzerano.”
Galzerano is not a plaintiff in the ACLU’s lawsuit, Grossack said. According to the Essex district attorney’s office, Galzerano is also facing trial in Lynn District Court on Jan. 10 for failing to register as a sex offender when he moved into his Lynn home in September 2011.
Phelan, the Lynn city councilor, said Galzerano lived in a “perfect triangle” of access to children: Shoemaker Elementary School, Gowdy Park, and a private day-care center all are within 1,000 feet of the home.
Galzerano now lives on Lynn Street in Peabody, on the Lynn line and across the street from Lakeshore Park, a recreational area on Browns Pond.
“That raises my eyebrows and causes suspicion,” Phelan said. “You’d be naive to think otherwise.”
Galzerano could not be reached for comment. He still owns the Lynn house, according to city property records, but is not allowed to live there.
“I still see him,” Potter said. “He moved, but he’s at the residence every day. He just doesn’t sleep there.”
Lynn has volunteered to stop enforcing its sex offender residency rules until the ACLU lawsuit is completed, according to Lamanna. He said the ACLU will likely seek a court order for Lynn to stop enforcing the law at a hearing this month.
Reinstein, the ACLU attorney, said the effectiveness of residency restrictions is “not borne out by statistics,” and there are several studies to back up his assertion.
In Iowa, after a statewide residency restriction took effect in 2005, the number of child sexual assaults actually increased, from 913 cases in the year prior to the law’s implementation to 928 and 1,095 cases the following two years, respectively, according to a 2008 study by the Iowa Department of Human Rights.
According to the US Department of Justice, 93 percent of sexually abused children are harmed by family members, close friends, or acquaintances.
But that statistic doesn’t matter much to Jessica O’Hara of Peabody, a mother of three who helped launch the Peabody ordinance after repeatedly seeing two Level 3 offenders at her children’s baseball games and a local library.
“I know that 90 percent of the abused children are molested by relatives, but my feeling is we should protect the other 10 percent,” O’Hara said.
Dan O’Brien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.