WOBURN — Wayne Chapman, the serial sex offender who’s been locked up for decades and linked to a pair of child murders, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of masturbating in front of prison workers, a case holding up his release from custody, which had appeared imminent in May.
Chapman, 70, entered his plea in Middlesex Superior Court to charges of open and gross lewdness and lewd, wanton and lascivious acts, stemming from the incidents on June 3 and 4 at MCI-Shirley.
He was brought into court in a wheelchair, sporting a white beard, glasses, and tan prison garb. The hearing came after his June indictment following an earlier district court arraignment on the same counts.
Clerk-magistrate Lisa McGovern ordered Chapman held without bail pending further proceedings Wednesday. Prosecutors on Wednesday will likely seek to have Chapman held pending a dangerousness hearing or, if that fails, request that McGovern set cash bail.
Assistant District Attorney Emily Jackson told McGovern that during the first incident Chapman was lying “unclothed with his genitals exposed” to prison staffers, causing “disgust and alarm” among the workers.
During the second incident, Jackson said, staff observed Chapman “masturbating . . . in his cell.” She called Chapman a “dangerous person based upon his criminal history.”
But Melissa Devore, Chapman’s attorney, countered that dangerousness hearings under state law are meant for charges involving a serious threat to someone’s personal safety, or the possibility of death.
“No one is going to die if you masturbate in front of them,” Devore said.
She told reporters outside the courthouse that she believes Chapman is innocent of the new charges.
“I’ve seen the video, and I’ve read the statement of the facts, and I still maintain Mr. Chapman’s innocence on his behalf . . . ,” Devore said. “There were multiple people around that saw him laying there. They had changed his diaper, and they’re claiming that he didn’t want to have his clothes on. They went over and told him to get back dressed, knowing that was something that he was not capable of doing. He can be seen on the video trying to cover himself up.”
She said that “after seeing the videos, I think that if justice prevails, he will be found not guilty.”
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.
Lawrence police have called Chapman a person of interest in the disappearance of 10-year-old Andy Puglisi in 1976, but he hasn’t been charged in connection with that case.
In September 1976, police arrested Chapman on charges of murdering 5-year-old David Louison of Brockton two years earlier, but a Plymouth County grand jury found insufficient evidence to indict him.
A single justice of the SJC in June ordered Chapman released after two psychologists found he was no longer sexually dangerous. People affected by Chapman’s crimes are still fighting to block his release in further proceedings pending before the SJC.Laura Crimaldi and Emily Sweeney of the Globe staff contributed to this report.