An accused child rapist in Salisbury, Massachusetts, is back behind bars pending a hearing, after prosecutors said he tried to have the two teenage victims killed while he was in jail awaiting trial. The case is also sparking new criticism of the superior court judge who had originally decided to release the suspect on a low bail.
Prosecutors said 38-year-old Scott Smith of Salisbury showed up to court in Salem to be fitted for a GPS monitoring bracelet Tuesday, but instead was brought before a judge for a hearing due to new allegations.
In the commonwealth's motion to revoke bail, prosecutors said while incarcerated, Smith solicited another to arrange for the murder of the two victims in the case. They argue he poses a danger to the victims and society. The victims are 14 and 16 years old. A new hearing will be held Thursday.
At a previous hearing, the state argued Smith should remain behind bars and held without bail. He was instead ordered to pay a $1000 bail and be fitted with a GPS device. In a memorandum, superior court judge Timothy Feeley explained his decision to release Smith, saying in part, "The fact that he could not control his sexual interests until he was caught, arrested and charged does not mean those interests cannot be controlled during the pendency of the cases in this court."
Critics said Judge Feeley is to blame for being too lenient. It is the latest case that has them calling for the judge to be removed from the bench. In May, he gave an admitted heroin dealer probation instead of prison time, leading to countless protests outside of the courthouse.
Rep. Jim Lyons of Andover has been unsuccessful in trying to impeach Feeley, but said he will try again during the next formal session. He said the same judge lowered the bail for a man who went on to kill a police officer in Maine and the time to address his leniency is now.
"Who knows what this suspect would have done? And that's why Judge Feeley is so dangerous," Rep. Lyons said. "Because he's allowing people, violent criminals, back on the street."
Eric Atstupenas, general counsel for the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, is also weighing in. He called the judge's decision concerning and said it may be time for the state to consider another solution to hold judges accountable.
"Maybe we take a hard look at creating some sort of appointment time frame or term limit appointment for judges," Atstupenas said. "That would include a review or evaluation process to make sure that judges are in fact abiding by the standards that they're supposed to."
Attorney Ray Buso said he is defending not only the judge, but the judiciary that he believes would be threatened if Feeley was impeached.
"Judge Feeley is one of the best five judges I've ever been in front of," Buso said. "If a person can be removed over two or three or four things that some people feel are not right, what it would to the judiciary is they would no longer be independent. They would be afraid of making decisions."
Due to routine superior court judge rotation, judge Feeley will not be making the decision at the child rape suspect's hearing Thursday. A few protesters still plan to gather outside the courthouse before the hearing.