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Sex Crimes in Essex County, Massachusetts

Sex Crimes in Essex

Sex crimes in Essex County are a classification of offenses that arise when a sexual act involves violence, or when there is the absence of consent to the sexual act by one party. It also includes engaging in sexual activity with a person who is legally incapable of giving consent, such as a child.

The penalties for sex crimes are more severe when the incident involves a child. Law enforcement in Essex County reported 369 sex crimes in 2019 including:

  • 183 rapes
  • 4 attempts to commit forcible rape
  • 88 fondling cases
  • 30 sodomy incidents
  • 3 cases of sexual assault with an object
  • 66 incidents of pornography/obscene material
  • 12 prostitution cases
  • 42 statutory rapes
  • 5 incest incidents
  • 3 assisting or promoting prostitution cases

As of March 2021, there were 4 reported rape incidents in Essex County.

What are the Types of Sex Crimes in Essex County, Massachusetts?

A number of sexual conducts that are categorized as unlawful include,

  • Dissemination or possession of obscene matter is an offense under Massachusetts law and includes the dissemination of any obscene printed, handwritten materials, sound recording, live performance, or visual representation. Any of these materials are considered obscene if they depict sexual acts in a noticeably offensive way. If an individual is convicted for this offense, they may be liable to a term of imprisonment in state prison for up to 5 years or in the house of correction for a maximum term of 2½ years. The offender may also be liable to pay a fine between $1,000 and $10,000. On subsequent offenses, the potential fine increases.
  • Rape occurs when a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. The Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 22(b) imposes a penalty of up to twenty years of imprisonment in the state prison for a first offense and up to life imprisonment for subsequent offenses.
  • Statutory rape. In 2014, a priest in Essex County was convicted for raping a 10-year-old child. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 265 Section 22A criminalizes the act of having sexual intercourse or unnatural sexual contact with a child under the age of 16. Unnatural sexual contact includes anal, oral sex, and any other intrusion of an inanimate object or a body part into a person’s genital or anal opening. The penalty for this crime is zero years to life imprisonment in the state prison.
  • Indecent exposure: A person commits this offense when they expose their genitals in a public place such as a public beach, and if convicted, may be liable to term imprisonment in a house of correction or jail for 6 months or less, a fine of up to $200, or by both the fine and imprisonment.
  • Open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior involve the intentional exposure of genitalia, buttocks, or female breasts in a manner so as to cause alarm or shock. For instance, masturbating in a car may give rise to this charge. A conviction of this crime carries a punishment of 0 to 3 years imprisonment in the state prison or 0 to 2 years in jail or a fine of up to $300.
  • Indecent assault and battery involve the deliberate and unjustified touching of a person’s private body parts, including the breast, thigh, abdomen, buttocks, pubic or genital areas. When the victim is a child under fourteen years old, the penalty for the offense is imprisonment in state prison for up to 10 years or in the house of correction for up to 2½ years. If the victim is aged 14 years or above, the punishment is 0 to 5 years in the state prison or 0 to 2½ years in a jail or house of correction. The penalty increases if the victim is an elderly person, mentally retarded, or has a disability.
  • Child Pornography includes the intentional possession, purchase, dissemination, or production of material depicting a child engaging in sexual conduct. The penalty for this crime includes up to 5 years in state prison, up to 2½ years in a jail or house of correction, or a fine between $1,000 and $10,000. The punishment increases on subsequent convictions. Dissemination of child pornography carries a penalty of 10 to 20 years in state prison, or a fine of between $10,000 and $50,000 or three times the monetary value of any financial profit made from the dissemination, whichever is greater. Secretly photographing or video recording the intimate parts of a child is punishable under Massachusetts law by up to 5 years in state prison, up to 2½ years in a jail or house of correction, or a fine not exceeding $10,000. Producing child pornography carries a penalty of 10 to 20 years in state prison or a fine between $10,000 and $50,000.
  • Inducing a minor into prostitution: Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272 Section 4A criminalizes the payment, offer to pay, or agreement to pay a child under the age of 18 to engage in sexual conduct. The offender may be sentenced to a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 5 years imprisonment in state prison without a possibility of probation or parole and a $5,000 fine.
  • Prostitution, pimping, and soliciting is the crime of engaging, offering to engage, or agreeing to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee. The offense is punishable by imprisonment in the house of correction for up to 1 year, a fine not exceeding $500. Soliciting involves paying, offering to pay, or agreeing to pay a person to engage in sexual conduct and is punishable by imprisonment in the house of correction for up to 2½ years or a fine between $1,000 and $5,000. The punishment increases if the crime involves sexual conduct with a child under the age of 14. In 2017, a bill to decriminalize prostitution in Massachusetts was proposed to the State's House of Representatives.

What Crimes Require Sex Offender Registration in Essex County, Massachusetts?

The sex offender registry in Essex County is a detailed list of convicted sex offenders, managed by the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board. The purpose of the sex offender registry is to keep track of sex offenders, including those who have completed their sentences. Massachusetts law requires individuals convicted of certain sex offenses to provide identifying information to the Sex Offender Registry Board, including their:

  • Biographical data such as their name, aliases, sex, race, date, and place of birth
  • Physical description, weight, height, eye color, and hair color
  • Social security number, home address, and work or school address
  • Photograph and fingerprints

The sex offender registry also contains information on the sex crime the offender was convicted for, the date of conviction, and the town or city where the offense took place. Upon conviction, sex offenders are classified into levels 1, 2, or 3, depending on the crime committed, the level of danger the offender poses to society, and their likelihood to be repeat offenders.

Interested parties may find information on levels 2 and 3 sex offenders on the Sex Offender Registry Board’s public website by providing the name of the sex offender. Parties may also obtain a list of all sex offenders in the County, a particular city, or town.

Alternatively, interested parties may request information about sex offenders from the Sex Offender Registry Board online, in person, or by mail. They may walk into any local city or a town police station. For online requests, interested parties may submit an email to the Board, including their names and organization. The Board also accepts mail-in requests sent to:

Attn: SORI Coordinator,

Sex Offender Registry Board,

P.O. Box 392,

North Billerica, MA 01862

Information about level 1 sex offenders is not accessible to the public. It is accessible to the

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Municipal and state police departments
  • Massachusetts Parole Board
  • Department of Youth Services
  • Department of Correction and all county correctional facilities
  • Department of Mental Health
  • Department of Children and Families
  • Department of Probation

What is a Sex Crimes Defense Attorney?

A sex crimes defense attorney specializes in defending a person accused of a sex crime. They deal with any issue surrounding the arrest, the investigation, charges, sentencing, and appeal. A sex crime attorney also examines witnesses, researches the facts, and, if necessary, tries to negotiate deals with the prosecution.

Sex crimes lawyers ensure the accused’s rights are protected all through the arrest and prosecution process and build a defense strategy, to acquit the accused or discredit the prosecution’s case.

How does a Sex Crime Defense Attorney Work?

An experienced sex crime defense attorney will adopt the best strategy in their client’s interest. The facts of each case are different and treated as such. Depending on the facts of the case, the attorney may rely on defenses such as

  • Consent: For most sex crimes, a fundamental element for conviction is lack of consent. If the defense lawyer can prove that the sexual acts were consensual, it may lead to an acquittal. However, consent is not an adequate defense if the victim is incapacitated, a minor, or mentally ill, or if the consent was obtained by force or deception.
  • Insanity or involuntary intoxication: The defense attorney may assert that the defendant was legally incapable of understanding that their actions were wrong at the time of the alleged crime. Additionally, if the defendant was intoxicated or drugged by some method other than their own doing, the attorney may use that as a defense.
  • Police abuse of mistaken identity: Law enforcement can, in haste to obtain justice for a sex crime, rush to judgment and err while processing the case. The victim may have also been under pressure by the police to identify the culprit in a lineup or other witness identification processes. The defense attorney may assert that the charges against the accused result from police abuse or a case of mistaken identity.
  • Innocence: This is the most basic defense in a sex crime case. The defense may argue that the defendant could not have committed the offense because they were in a different location at the time of the alleged crime. They may also assert that the alleged victim is malicious or falsely accusing the defendant.