An audit has found that the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry has lost track of more than 1,700 convicted sex offenders.
The registry lacks current addresses for 1,769 sex offenders, according to a state report released on Wednesday.
Out of that total, 936 had never been classified at all. Among those unclassified, 129 were convicted of raping a child with force, 143 of rape and 177 of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.
An audit released on Wednesday found that the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry has lost track of more than 1,700 convicted sex offenders
Auditor Suzanne Bump found that the registry lacks adequate policies and procedures to ensure sex offenders are ‘classified in a timely manner’.
The registry had records on nearly 22,000 convicted sex offenders at the time of the audit.
Auditor Suzanne Bump, pictured, found that the registry lacks adequate policies and procedures to ensure sex offenders are ‘classified in a timely manner’
The faces of all those who have been convicted of crimes like rape, rape of a child and sexual assault are intended to be visible on the registry, classified as level 2 and level 3 offenders with a moderate to high risk to reoffend.
The audit indicates that there are nearly 2,000 people on that registry whose information is incomplete, incorrect or nonexistent.
‘Honestly, it’s beyond scary,’ Chelsea police Chief Brian Kyes, president of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association told ABC5.
‘They’re under the radar, they’re not classified. They could be working in a school environment, for a youth program. They’re a level zero. There’s no classification.’
Registry officials responded to the audit by saying they were hampered by laws and regulations that govern the agency’s classification process.
As they struggle to keep track of and classify sex offenders, cases have piled up, resulting in a significant backlog.
The backlog is fueled in part by a 2015 Supreme Court ruling that changed the way the agency applies classifications.
In that ruling many sex offenders’ classifications were thrown out when the legal standard used to determine the likelihood of a sex offender re-offending was raised.
The court changed the standard for justifying a sex offender’s classification from ‘a preponderance of the evidence’ to ‘clear and convincing evidence’.
It instructed SORB to apply the higher standard retroactively to classifications pending before the agency or in the superior and appellate courts.
Those classification problems are at the center of Bump’s review.
‘Nine months after the supreme court issued its decision, only 10 percent of the offenders who needed to be reclassified had been reclassified,’ Bump told 5 Investigates.
The audit also found that the board was not adequately verifying the addresses of offenders on the list.
‘If we cannot identify the location of a sex offender, then the appropriate people — law enforcement, past victims and neighbors — are not be able to find out the information about the presence of a sex offender in their midst,’ Bump said.
ABC5 identified one of those sex offenders as Giovanni Rossi. He was classified as a level 3 offender after serving almost 10 years behind bars for rape.
He appealed that classification, so when the 2015 ruling came down, he was removed from the public sex offender registry.
Last Spring, while his classification was up in the air, Rossi allegedly sexually assaulted another woman inside a home in Swampscott, Massachussets.
Police said Rossi used a Craigslist apartment rental advertisement to lure his victim.
He allegedly grabbed the young woman by her ponytail, dragged her into a bedroom and ripped her shirt open.
Police said he groped and punched her before she broke free and ran out of the house.
In December 2002, Rossi violently raped a 24-year-old woman he met during a party at his home in Revere, Massachusetts.
While driving her home, Rossi grabbed the back of the woman’s head, ripped her hair out and tried to force her to perform a sexual act.
He threatened to kill her and throw her in the Mystic River.
‘To actually have the classification be in limbo, honestly, for a day or two or three, is too long, not to mention for weeks or months or even years,’ Kyes said.