Chapman’s attorney says petition seeking block of his release is without merit

Sex offender Wayne Chapman is seen as he wheeled into court before a hearing, Tuesday, April 17, 2007 at Salem Superior Court in Salem, Mass. He will not be getting out of jail. (Photo by Lisa Poole) / OUTTAKe 0419
Lisa Poole
Sex offender Wayne Chapman is seen as he wheeled into court before a hearing, on April 17, 2007 at Salem Superior Court in Salem.

The attorney for convicted child rapist Wayne W. Chapman has rejected the premise of a petition seeking to block his release from prison, saying the claims are without merit, according to a new court filing.

“Petitioners simply do not have standing or a right of action to put forth any of the claims they make,” attorney Eric Tennen wrote in a filing dated May 27. “Moreover, none of their claims have any merit. Therefore, this Court cannot provide the relief requested.”

Last week, four petitioners challenged Chapman’s release, requesting that the state’s highest court prohibit such a move. The petition came after the state’s the Department of Correction said Chapman, who has spent more than 40 years in prison and was publicly identified as a suspect in the 1976 disappearance of a Lawrence boy, was no longer considered to be sexually dangerous and must be released from prison.


The petitioners want the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to review Chapman’s file and correct any errors in the process that led to his release.

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In his response to the petition, Tennen said Chapman has “various medical issues” and that he will need special placement “somewhere that can accommodate his medical needs.”

As soon as such a placement becomes available, Tennen said in his filing, “Chapman is entitled to immediate release.”

Tennen has said that the review process for his client’s release was done in compliance with state law. Two psychologists who recently examined Chapman concluded that he no longer fits the legal criteria to be considered a sexually dangerous person, according to Tennen.

The petitioners, said Tennen in the filing, “do not point to any statutory text, statement of legislative intent, or other authority granting them a private right of action to sue or intervene in these proceedings.”


Wendy Murphy, an attorney for the four petitioners, said she plans on filing a response to Chapman’s filing on Wednesday.

Murphy is pushing for public access to the reports of the examiners who evaluated Chapman and wants a judicial review of the matter.

All four petitioners are listed on the victim notification list for Chapman.

Their petition stated that “Chapman himself stated that he raped as many as 100 boys, and fantasized about killing and cannibalizing a child.”

Chapman, 70, finished serving sentences for child rape and other offenses in 2004, but remained locked up under a state law that keeps sex offenders in prison if they are found to be sexually dangerous, officials said.


There has been no release date set for Chapman, said Cara Savelli, a spokeswoman for the Department of Correction, in an e-mail on Tuesday.

Savelli said his release “was determined as a result of two independent qualified examiners who are psychologists not employed by the DOC.”

“The DOC lacked any ability to appeal the decision and Chapman must be let go when the court issues their order,” said Savelli.

The department also says it followed “all statutory and procedural requirements regarding advance notification to the victims of Wayne Chapman.”

Murphy disagreed with that characterization, saying the DOC did not give adequate notice.

“The DOC believes it’s time to re-evaluate the statute that currently allows a dangerous sex offender to be released back into the community with no available recourse,” said Savelli in the e-mail. “In the absence of legislative changes to the statute, juries will not be allowed to hear from all experts because the Commonwealth cannot even go to trial in cases where both qualified examiners say a person is no longer sexually dangerous.”

Governor Charlie Baker’s office also thinks Chapman should not be released.

“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,” said Baker spokesman Brendan Moss in a statement Tuesday evening.

Laura Crimaldi of Globe staff contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.