NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 8, 2012

Governor's bill would have exposed Burbine

BOSTON — After the arrest of John Burbine, who faces a 100-count indictment in connection with allegedly sexually assaulting at least 13 infants and toddlers, Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday reiterated his support for making Level 1 sex offender identities available to the public.

Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone described the case as “among the worst cases of child abuse ever prosecuted” by the county office. Authorities say Burbine raped and abused more than a dozen children in their own homes, which he accessed through a child care service operated by his wife. The alleged assaults occurred from August 2010 through August 2012.

Burbine, 49, of Wakefield, was convicted in 1989 of indecent assault and battery on a child, and was classified as a Level 1 offender, the lowest sex offender status. The identities of Level 1 offenders are available only to police.

Patrick in May 2011 filed legislation that would have made Level 1 sex offender information available to members of the public who called the local police, similar to how Level II information is handled.

“We have made that request in the past. I don’t see any reason to change that position,” Patrick said as he left a Cabinet meeting early Friday afternoon.

The bill (H 3471) would have aligned state law with the requirements of the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. The Committee on the Judiciary sent it to a study, usually a dead end.

There was widespread disagreement at the time between the administration and Attorney General Martha Coakley about what pieces of Patrick’s bill were necessary, whether all the provisions would be constitutional in Massachusetts and how the bill would be paid for given its estimated $15 million cost, according to an individual familiar with the process. The bill also required an extensive rewrite due to the various boilerplate definitions of crimes that didn’t always match state law, the person said.

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