23 Aug 2014
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Lawmakers Taking Preliminary Look At Sex Offender System

A Wakefield resident was able to evade detection as a sex offender because he was classified as Level 1. State lawmakers have taken notice.

Lawmakers Taking Preliminary Look At Sex Offender System

The local area was shocked this week to learn that a Wakefield man was charged on dozens of child sex abuse charges. The case is already graphic and disturbing enough - but a number of parents, including this one that spoke to Wakefield Patch on Thursday, are alarmed that John Burbine, 49, was a Level 1 sex offender all along - even as he did work for his wife's day care business.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone noted at a Thursday press conference that Burbine had a 1989 conviction for indecent assault and battery on his record. Two other complaints against Burbine in 2005 and 2009 were later deemed not prosecutable. Burbine faces a total of 95 criminal counts for child sex abuse that allegedly occurred between August 2010 and August 2012. Because of the 1989 conviction, Burbine was classified as a Level 1 sex offender - the category considered least likely to re-offend.

Under state law, Level 1 sex offender information is not considered public record - which is why at least one Wakefield parent in 2010 found nothing when she went to look up Burbine's background before sending her son to the Waterfall Education Center for tutoring. The son is not thought to be a victim in the case.

On Friday, Wakefield Police Chief Richard Smith told Wakefield Patch that earlier in the morning, he had called the offices of State Rep. Donald Wong and State Senator Katherine Clark asking them to sponsor legislation aimed at fixing loopholes in the state's sex offender registration policies.

A Friday morning check with the office of House Republican Leader Brad Jones finds that at this point, legislators are in the beginning stages of reviewing exactly what is on the books regarding the sex offender registry.

Jones spokesman Peter Lorenz told Wakefield Patch that the lawmaker's office is actively looking into possible legislative responses to the Burbine case - while also taking time to look into previous sex offender bills that state Republicans have already tried to pass before.

"We're grappling with the totality of it and being very deliberate in what our next step will be," said Lorenz.

A spokeswoman for Katherine Clark also reports that Wakefield's state senator has begun to examine the information with an eye on the proper legislative solution.

More information will be provided on Wakefield Patch as it becomes available. 

For all of Wakefield Patch's coverage of this issue, visit our Wakefield Man Accused of Child Sex Crimes topic page.

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