Mass. lawmaker seeks to change wiretapping law after alleged victim of domestic abuse is charged

"I was shocked that this is something that could still actually happen to somebody."

A view of the Massachusetts State House. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

A Massachusetts state senator is seeking to change the state’s wiring tapping laws after an alleged victim of domestic assault was charged with violating the statute when she recorded her alleged abuser without his consent.

“I was shocked that this is something that could still actually happen to somebody in Massachusetts,” state Sen. Patrick O’Connor, a Weymouth Republican told WCVB, whose investigative team has reported on the case.

Alex Fopiano, who is accused of attempting to suffocate his wife with a pillow, appeared in court on Tuesday, where his lawyer requested the charges be dropped, according to the news station.


Attorney Peter Horstmann said Fopiano’s wife pursued the charges against her husband as retaliation. Horstmann says she did not report the incident until after she was charged with eight counts of illegal wiretapping for allegedly secretly recording her husband, but records obtained by Boston.com show Fopiano’s wife did in fact report incidents of abuse to local police.

Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Brandon DeAvilla countered that Fopiano’s wife pressed charges because authorities were not responsive to what allegedly happened.

“She found a situation where the system was not doing what she expected it to do, that she had to take matters into her own hands, and that’s when she filed her own complaint,” said DeAvilla, who is a special prosecutor in the case being held in Plymouth County.

The judge placed the request to dismiss under advisement, according to WCVB.

Under state law, a person who records someone else without that second party’s permission can be criminally charged.

Fopiano’s wife, in a recent deal, will have her charges dismissed in six months so long as she commits no additional crimes, according to WCVB.

But her case caught the attention of O’Connor, who argues the state law should be amended to exempt survivors of domestic violence.


“As they’re trying to get out of an abusive relationship, as they’re trying to move from a victim to a survivor, to have this be then put up as a barrier to them to come forward, as a barrier for them to fully heal from the pain that they’re feeling, is something that the state should definitely change,” he said.

O’Conner hopes to file an amendment before the current legislative session ends in a few weeks.

“At least let’s start the conversation. Let’s have a commission. Look at this. Let’s do something to make sure that what happened … doesn’t happen again,” he said.


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com