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Ask The Governor | May 30, 2018

Gov. Baker: Convicted Rapist Wayne Chapman's Case Highlights A Systemic Legal Problem

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Gov. Baker in the WGBH Radio studio.
Meredith Nierman/WGBH News
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Ask The Governor | May 30, 2018

Gov. Charlie Baker says there’s not much the state can do to prevent the release of a convicted child rapist, after mental health examiners ruled that he was no longer a threat to children.

Wayne Chapman was convicted of raping two children and admitted to attacking up to 100 more. The state’s civil commitment law allowed authorities to keep Chapman locked up long after he finished his 30-year sentence. But now, mental health experts say the 70 year old is no longer sexually dangerous and should be freed.

“I think people with track records like his who are convicted of crimes like his should never get out,” Baker said during his monthly "Ask The Governor" segment on Boston Public Radio Wednesday. “I don’t understand why his sentence was limited to 30 years, plus or minus, and then he moved to this civil commitment status.”

Chapman’s attorney Eric Tennen rejected a petition seeking to block Chapman’s release from prison, after four petitioners went to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to block Chapman’s release.

In a filing from May 27, Tennen wrote, “Petitioners simply do not have standing or a right of action to put forth any of the claims they make ... moreover, none of their claims have any merit.”

According to Baker, the state cannot and will not appeal the case, but his office will make recommendations to change the process for criminals like Chapman, and potentially create a public monitoring standard for similar cases.

“I certainly think this case raises a number of issues about the current process and the state of the law,” Baker said, “and we will file legislation shortly that significantly enhances the penalties for somebody like him, who is a serial sex offender.”

To hear Gov. Baker’s entire segment with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio player above.

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