A superior court judge whose past decisions have already led to protests is facing new outrage. Timothy Feeley is now accused of being too lenient toward a child rape suspect.
Scott Smith, 38, of Salisbury, was released on $1,000 cash bail and ordered to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet. According to court paperwork, he is accused of raping two girls under the age of 16. He's facing a number of charges, including aggravated rape of a child and drugging a person for sexual intercourse. He was also charged with child pornography.
At a dangerousness hearing, the state argued Smith should remain behind bars and held without bail. In a memorandum, Feeley agreed 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."
"It is one thing to sexually assault children under an ill-advised view that such crimes would never be disclosed. It is another thing to sexually assault children while on release from superior court," he continued.
The decision is sparking outrage among the same critics who tried to get Judge Feeley removed from the bench after other controversial decisions. In May, he gave an admitted heroin dealer probation instead of prison time, leading to countless protests outside of the courthouse.
"It's one thing after another. He needs to go," Lucy Kohler of Danvers said. "I will fight this for a long time."
Kohler lost her son to an overdose and has been organizing the protests calling for the removal of Feeley. In light of this latest decision, she plans to gather with more protesters on Monday.
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 and the time to address his leniency is now.
"Judge Feeley is protecting the criminal and not protecting the victim," Rep. Lyons said. "It's outrageous. When is enough enough?"
Some worry removing him because of his decisions would set a dangerous precedent and threaten the independence of the judiciary.
The Massachusetts Bar Association has defended Feeley remaining on the bench in the past, but could not be reached for comment on this latest ruling. Requests for an interview with Feeley have been declined.
Smith is due back in court Oct. 23.