Massachusetts

Rape Victim on Attacker's Planned Prison Release: ‘It Was My Understanding He Would Never See the Light of Day'

One of the Lawrence, Massachusetts, boys who was raped by Wayne Chapman in 1977 spoke publicly for the first time after a judge denied his lawyer's petition seeking to stop Chapman's release from prison.

Lawyer Wendy Murphy presented Steve at the Monday news conference, and he spoke about how his happy-go-lucky life was forever changed after Chapman raped him as an 11-year-old.

"That day, I was introduced to fear, pain, anger, resentment, guilt, shame," he said. "I was given a life sentence that day, and I think the offender should be given the same."

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A judge has denied Murphy's petition seeking to stop the release of Chapman, a convicted serial child rapist who has been in state custody for more than 40 years.

Murphy said she is asking for an emergency injunction against Chapman's release and has asked the Supreme Judicial Court to review the case.

Chapman, 70, was sent to prison in 1977 for raping two boys in Lawrence. He has spent years trying to be released, but until now, he was always found to be too dangerous.

Earlier this year, two experts testified that Chapman was no longer sexually dangerous, meaning the Department of Corrections has to set him free.

Steve says the past two weeks have been especially difficult, as he's been haunted by the news of Chapman's pending release from prison. 

"I don't want him out. I don't want him on the street," Steve said. "If I can at least keep him off the street, at least he'll go to his grave knowing I did something. He ruined my life, I owe him that."

Murphy, who is representing some of Chapman's victims, filed a petition last month in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, saying her clients had not been given the mandatory minimum 14-day notification.

"The petitioners, victims of Chapman's horrible crimes, are understandably upset and frightened by the possibility of Chapman's release," Associate Justice Scott L. Kafker wrote in his ruling. But he said the issue of 14-day notice is no longer an issue because 14 days have now passed and Chapman has not yet been released.

Kafker also rejected Murphy's objection to the appointment process of the two forensic psychologists who evaluted Chapman, and the fact that there was no judicial review of their opinions that he is no longer sexually dangerous.

Chapman's attorney, Eric Tennen, told NBC10 Boston Monday that they have still not secured housing for Chapman upon his release. They are currently looking at a treatment center or nursing home that can help with his medical needs.

Fifty-four pages of Chapman's mental health evaluations were released Friday following a judge's order that the reports be reviewed before he is released.

One of the experts, forensic psychologist Katrin Rouse Weir, wrote that while Chapman "continues to report a vulnerability to experiencing sexualized interest in prepubescent male children," he is unlikely to do so again because of his physical limitations.

"He lacks the physical ability to independently transport himself to circumstances where he could isolate male children and physically overcome their resistance to sexually assault them," she said. "He also lacks the energy and capacity to engage in a complex set of physical actions in order to sexually assault 10-to-12-year-old boys. This does not mean that there is no risk to potential for sexual re-offense, however, in my opinion it is unlikely."

The other expert, forensic psychologist Gregg A. Belle, also said Chapman's age and deteriorating physical condition — he suffers from Parkinson's disease — make him unlikely to re-offend.

Belle said he agrees with concerns raised by others that Chapman "absolutely cannot be in an environment with access to children and that he is likely exaggerating the extent of some of his physical and cognitive limitations."

Still, he said, "the combination of Mr. Chapman's age and his deteriorating physical condition resulting in him no longer being able to manage independently has reached a threshold in which I can no longer opine that Mr. Chapman is likely to reoffend sexually if not confined to a secure facility. Therefore, it is my opinion that he is no longer a sexually dangerous person."

Gov. Charlie Baker has called the recommendation to release Chapman "enormously problematic," and said he plans to file legislation to prevent those who have been civilly committed from being released without going before a jury or judge. 

In a statement Monday night, Gov. Baker said, "The administration does not support the release of Mr. Chapman and plans to file legislation to increase penalties and improve court proceedings for sexually dangerous persons."

Court documents show that Chapman had roughly 50 victims over a 10-year span, and he is believed to have molested many of them in wooded areas by luring them there to help him find a phony dog.

Chapman also remains the main suspect in the 1976 disappearance of Andy Puglisi, a 10-year-old boy who was never seen again after heading to a Lawrence pool.

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