Convicted child rapist Wayne W. Chapman, who was on the verge of being released after 40 years in state custody, is now facing sexual misconduct charges for alleged acts as an inmate at a state prison in Shirley.
Chapman, 70, is charged with indecent exposure and lewd behavior, alleged acts that occurred Sunday and Monday, the Department of Correction said in a statement Wednesday.
Eric Tennen, a lawyer for Chapman, said before Chapman’s arraignment Wednesday in Ayer District Court that he wasn’t aware of the new charges. A not-guilty plea was entered on Chapman’s behalf, and a judge ordered him held without bail.
“I have no comment since I have literally no idea what is going on,” Tennen said in an e-mail before the hearing. “No one has bothered to inform me about anything. It seems the press was made aware of this before I was.”
Governor Charlie Baker’s office said Wednesday that he filed legislation that would punish serial child rapists with a life without parole sentence and give judges an expanded role in deciding when sexually dangerous persons are freed.
“Serial child predators should be behind bars for the rest of their lives, not out in our communities,” Baker said in a statement. “Today, our administration is filing legislation to make changes to our laws to prevent dangerous individuals from being released in the future, and we look forward to working with the Legislature on this important matter.”
A DOC report filed in the new case said Chapman was seen lying in his bed in his cell Sunday “with no pants or underwear on.”
“Chapman was given several direct orders to put on pants or cover his genitals,” the report states. “Chapman eventually complied and covered his genitals. It should be noted that Chapman’s cell is in direct view of the nurses’ station.”
The next day, Chapman was seen by nursing staff at MCI-Shirley allegedly masturbating in his cell in the health services unit. “Chapman had to be told several times to cover up and stop masturbating,” the report said.
The employee who witnessed the incident said “she believed that his actions were deliberate and she felt violated and disgusted by his behavior,” the filing said.
After years of failing to convince the courts and forensic experts that he could safely return to society, Chapman finally succeeded in getting two psychologists to conclude he was no longer sexually dangerous, clearing the way for his release.
However, a Superior Court judge and a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court both ruled that, under state law, all legal barriers to his being released had been lifted.
Tennen was working to find a place for Chapman to live; he was being held at the Shirley prison in the interim.
Wendy Murphy, a lawyer for four people affected by Chapman’s crimes, said she and at least one of her clients plan to address reporters Wednesday evening.
“The victims are obviously very, very relieved” by the new charges, Murphy said in a telephone interview. “One of them was sobbing. I couldn’t understand what the words were because the tears were so powerful. They’re very relieved, putting it mildly. This was for them a kind of terrorism — in the sense of their whole lives they felt fearful of this man.”
Murphy elaborated in a written statement.
“It boggles the mind that not one but two qualified examiners could find this man not sexually dangerous,” she said. “The absurdity of their decisions is why we have been fighting so hard to prevent his release. This is not a frail man with a walker. This is a dangerous man with no conscience — who used knives, rope, and duct tape on his child victims, and boasted about feeling pleasure in their pain.”
She and her clients “will continue to press our appeal in the hope that the Supreme Judicial Court will take this opportunity to clarify” a 2009 decision that led to the SJC’s recent decision on Chapman, Murphy said. “If the SJC doesn’t act quickly, similarly dangerous sex offenders will be released under similarly disturbing conditions.”
The Chapman case has drawn the attention of Baker, who said Wednesday in a statement that serial child rapists should face the most severe prison sentence Massachusetts law allows — life without parole. Only those convicted of first-degree murder face the same sentence.
Baker’s proposal would also make a change in the current sexual predator law that allows for a person to be civilly committed for “one day to life” unless two forensic mental health experts conclude the person is no longer sexually dangerous.
Under current law, a judge is required to release the offender if the two experts both agree the person is not a threat to society. Baker’s proposal would require judges to hold a hearing if other forensic experts disagree with the qualified examiners.
The proposal would also punish a “child predator” convicted of rape of a child by force with multiple victims with a mandatory life without parole sentence.
In September 1977, Chapman was convicted of raping two boys in Lawrence and sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison, according to records. A year later, he was convicted of several more sex offenses for attacks on four boys in 1974 and 1975.
In both cases, evidence revealed that Chapman lured young boys into wooded areas under the pretext of searching for his missing dog and then sexually assaulted them, the SJC said.
He also pleaded no contest in Rhode Island in the 1970s to charges including abominable or detestable acts against nature, court records show.
In addition, Chapman has been implicated in the disappearances of two young boys in Massachusetts in the 1970s. He has repeatedly denied murdering any children, according to court records.
Lawrence police have linked Chapman to the disappearance of 10-year-old Andy Puglisi in 1976, but he hasn’t been charged in connection with that case.
Lawrence police Chief Roy Vasque said last month that Chapman remains a person of interest in the Puglisi case, which remains under investigation.
“When he gets out, we will certainly make an attempt to speak with him,” Vasque said.
In September 1976, police arrested Chapman on charges of murdering 5-year-old David Louison, of Brockton, two years earlier. Based on information provided by Chapman, police searched a cemetery near the Louison home for the boy's body but found nothing. A Plymouth County grand jury found insufficient evidence to indict him.
Louison’s remains were finally discovered in 1980 the basement of a home located less than a mile from the house where David had been living when he vanished.
On Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said in the Baker administration’s statement that the proposed changes to rules governing the release of sexually dangerous persons will protect public safety.
“Crimes committed against children are among the most horrible our court system handles, and updating the penalties reflects the seriousness with which we take these offenses,” Polito said. “The strengthened review process included in this bill will ensure dangerous individuals are not released, which will protect our children and our communities.”
Her words were echoed in the release by Daniel Bennett, the state’s secretary of public safety and security.
“We need to revisit the kinds of sentences that give serial rapists of children like Wayne Chapman the chance to be released and reoffend,” Bennett said. “Violent offenders who repeatedly prey on children should be sentenced to life in prison and not to shorter terms.”
Chapman’s next court appearance is slated for June 27.
Laura Crimaldi of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Material from the Globe archives was also used.