The lawyer for a serial child rapist who was recently accused of exposing himself in prison said he is skeptical of the new charges given that they were filed just as his client was set to be released.
"We should all be skeptical and cautious when the government openly criticizes a lawful process and then manages to avoid the result they did not want," attorney Eric Tennen said at a press conference Monday. "That is a dangerous precedent.
Wayne Chapman, 70, was arrested by Massachusetts Department of Corrections officers at MCI Shirley last week for incidents that allegedly occurred on June 3 and June 4. According to court documents, Chapman was laying on his bed in his prison cell when exposing his genitals on June 3. He was also seen touching himself sexually in his cell the following day while in front of a nurse's station.
He was charged with indecent exposure, lewd, wanton and lascivious acts and open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior. He pleaded not guilty and will remain in DOC custody pending his next hearing on June 27.
Tennen called last week's charges "extremely convenient" given that his client was due to be released from prison as soon as housing could be secured.
"I'm suggesting they're not true," he said. "I believe he is innocent of what he is charged with.
"In 41 years in custody, Mr. Chapman was never accused of anything sexual," Tennen added. "Only in the last few months, and then only on the eve of his release he formally was charged in court."
He said as soon as the news of Chapman's release was made public, it became clear that the "powers that be," including Gov. Charlie Baker, did not want him set free.
"And then as his release drew near, the DOC announced new charges," Tennen said.
He said there is nothing unusal about how Chapman's case proceeded, adding that it followed all of the rules and processes that countless other cases have.
"If this process was somehow ineffective or resulted in the release of truly dangerous men, you would know," Tennen said. "You would know because there would be stories about it."
He said there was a similar "panic" a few years ago when the Rev. Paul Shanley was released after serving 12 years for the rape of a boy in the 1980s. Two years later, he said Shanley is living "a quiet life, without incident."
Also speaking at Monday's press conference was forensic psychologist Dr. Joseph Plaud.
"A lot of incorrect information, downright falsehoods and as a result, misplaced indignation have been spread in the past few weeks," Plaud said. "So for a few minutes at least, please put down any pitchforks and tiki torches."
Plaud spoke for several minutes about how more needs to be done to prevent sexual violence and to prevent people from re-offending.
"But the focus right now, right here, must be on (Chapman's) status today," he said.
Convicted of raping two boys in Lawrence in 1977, Chapman had been approved for release last month after more than 40 years in state custody following a determination from two examiners that he was "no longer sexually dangerous". A justice on Massachusetts' highest court denied a petition from victims to block his release early last week.
At a news conference last week, lawyer Wendy Murphy, who represents some of Chapman's victims, said she will continue her appeal with the Supreme Judicial Court in an effort to keep Chapman in jail.
"It's our understanding that he (Chapman) is going to seek to be released on personal recognizance, or could, on June 27," Murphy said. "So we're going to continue to pursue our appeal because if that were to happen we want to have another way of holding him."
Chapman lured as many as 50 young boys into the woods over a 10-year span by pretending he was searching for a missing dog and then sexually assaulted them, according to court documents.
He is also a suspect in the 1976 disappearance of Andy Puglisi, a 10-year-old Lawrence boy who was never seen again after heading to a pool.