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EDITORIAL

If an alleged child rapist isn’t dangerous, who is?

Under Massachusetts law, a court can hold someone charged with burglary or arson without bail based on ‘dangerousness’ — but not someone charged with child rape.

Patrick Rose was arraigned last week on five charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and one count each of aggravated rape; enticement of a minor; open and gross lewdness; and dissemination of matter harmful to a minor. Under Massachusetts law, he cannot be held without bail on the grounds that he’s too dangerous to be released.
Patrick Rose was arraigned last week on five charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and one count each of aggravated rape; enticement of a minor; open and gross lewdness; and dissemination of matter harmful to a minor. Under Massachusetts law, he cannot be held without bail on the grounds that he’s too dangerous to be released.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

If rape isn’t force — what is? If an alleged child rapist isn’t potentially dangerous — who is?

Last week, Patrick M. Rose was arraigned on five charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and one count each of aggravated rape; enticement of a minor; open and gross lewdness; and dissemination of matter harmful to a minor. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and a judge set bail at $100,000. But because of a ruling by the state’s highest court, the office of Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins could not petition the court to hold the former police officer and police union head without bail on the grounds that he’s too dangerous to be released.

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Under Chapter 276, Section 58A of the Massachusetts General Laws, a prosecutor can request pretrial detention of a defendant for 180 days in cases involving the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against another person. Under the statute, a prosecutor can request a so-called “dangerousness” hearing for someone charged with burglary or arson — but not for someone charged with child rape.

The roadblock to a dangerousness hearing in Rose’s case stems from a Supreme Judicial Court ruling in a case involving a defendant who was arraigned for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old girl. In January 2019, the SJC found that the defendant couldn’t be held while the case was pending because his alleged crime did not include an element of force or threatened force.

The fact that “Patrick Rose could not be held on dangerousness because the charges he is alleged to have engaged in ... don’t contain the requisite level of force flies in the face of anything reasonable, sound, and decent,” said Rollins in an interview. Vowing to do what she can to change that, she said she will propose a review of the statute, and suggest creating a category where allegations of child rape can at least come before a judge for consideration.

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Lawmakers have resisted calls from Governor Charlie Baker and others to correct the omission of aggravated rape of a child from the statute. Opponents argue that a dangerousness finding can undercut the presumption of innocence, even though the statute says it should not.

Still, the evidence in the Rose case is disturbing. Rose, who retired in 2018 after 24 years with the Boston Police Department — including three as president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association — has been charged with molesting a young girl over five years. The girl, now 14, told investigators that Rose touched her inappropriately, exposed himself, and showed her pornography on his iPad, according to a Boston police report. The case was referred to Massachusetts State Police, resulting in Rose’s arrest and arraignment.

The alleged crimes committed by Rose occurred during at least three years when he was an active Boston police officer and the president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association. “While committing heinous crimes of his own, he was standing in judgment of others,” said Rollins. “That is a breach of trust.”

And so is a law that doesn’t consider allegations of child rape dangerous enough to keep the accused off the streets pending trial.


Editorials represent the views of the Boston Globe Editorial Board. Follow us on Twitter at @GlobeOpinion.