BOSTON (WPRI) — The Supreme Judicial Court has ordered Wayne Chapman, a notorious child rapist convicted of abusing boys in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the 1970s, released from civil confinement.
While his criminal sentences have all run out, Chapman remains behind bars under the state’s civil commitment law, which allows a sex offender to be held civilly if a court-appointed expert deems him sexually dangerous.
The 31-page SJC decision points to the two “qualified examiners” who determined Chapman was no longer sexually dangerous last year. A 2009 precedent called Johnstone determined a person could not continue to be confined if the two examiners deemed him not sexually dangerous.
“The Commonwealth has failed to persuade us that Johnstone was incorrectly decided,” the SJC wrote in its decision.
The high court also ruled against two of Chapman’s victims, who petitioned the court to try and block his release. The victims said they were not properly notified of his imminent release last year after the examiners’ decision.
“That’s what the law was, and today that’s what the law continues to be,” said Eric Tennen, the attorney for Chapman. “He will be discharged from the civil commitment.”
Chapman remains jailed on a new criminal indictment of lewd & lascivious behavior after the DOC alleges he exposed himself in front of a nurse last year and masturbated in public. Tennen said the trial is set for June.
While Chapman could now be released on bail on the new case, Tennen said it’s unlikely he can afford the $25,000 cash bail.
Chapman’s defense team has argued in court documents that his genitals were only exposed because a nurse removed his sheets and clothing after he urinated on himself.