State appeals court overturns Level 2 classification for child porn convict

The Massachusetts Appeals Court today ordered the Sex Offender Registry Board to reconsider its classification of a man convicted of possessing child pornography, pointing out that, under state law, the man’s crime is not considered a serious sex offense involving children.

A hearing examiner of the board had determined that the man, convicted of a federal child pornography possession charge in 2004, was a Level 2 sex offender, or one who is considered to pose a moderate risk of reoffending.

The man appealed to Superior Court. When a judge affirmed the examiner’s decision, took his case to the appeals court.

Advertisement

The examiner had written that the plaintiff “committed a serious sex offense involving a child. … The child pornography conviction raises serious issues regarding the danger [which the plaintiff] yet presents to a vulnerable at-risk population.’’

The court pointed out that possession of child pornography is defined as a sex offense under state law, but it is not included in a list of crimes that constitute a “sex offense involving a child.’’

“Consequently … the hearing officer appears to have mischaracterized the plaintiff’s underlying offense,’’ the court said, adding that it also might have led to errors in the examiner’s weighing of evidence.

Turning aside other arguments made by the defendant, who was referred to only as “John Doe,’’ the court sent the case back to the board for “further proceedings consistent with this opinion.’’

“As always, the Sex Offender Registry Board will fully comply with the Court’s decision,’’ the board said in a written statement.

It also pointed out that in May, the Patrick administration had filed legislation that would put child pornography offenses on the official list of sex offenses involving children.

Jump To Comments