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"Educating our communities and elected officials about the needs of survivors in our local cities and towns requires year round focus. JDI is our pathway to informing and influencing the state and national agenda to end sexual and domestic violence." ~ Karen Cavanaugh, JDI board member and Executive Director of Womanshelter/Companeras, pictured here with a JDI delegation meeting with Congressman Niki Tsongas

Group decries letter’s use in sex offender suit

Level 2 sex offenders fighting to shield their names from the public are using expert testimony from Jane Doe Inc. to support their case, in a bizarre twist to a high court drama the victims advocacy group says it wants no part of.

Public defenders representing the six sex of­fenders and attorneys for the state are due to appear before the Supreme Judicial Court today to argue a law Gov. Deval Patrick signed last summer that would add the names and photos of Level 2 sex offenders to the online Sex Offender Registry Board.

The plaintiffs say retro­actively publishing the names of 6,000 sex of­fenders deemed Level 2 before the law was passed is unconstitutional and will lead to “devastating financial and emotional consequences.”

As part of their argument, their taxpayer-funded lawyers cited a letter from a “prominent victims rights group,” written by Maureen Gallagher, policy director for Jane Doe Inc., that reads, in part, “over-notification can make it more challenging for communities to determine which individuals are at more risk to re-offend.”

“Internet disclosure should be reserved for the most at risk to re-offend,” according to the letter written to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in May.

But Gallagher told the Herald she had no idea the lawyers would use the letter, and accused them of cherry-picking from testimony on several bills meant to encourage “broader thinking around what are the fixes.”

“When we wrote this letter, we didn’t come out in favor or in opposition to the provisions,” Gallagher said. “We are just cautioning what the impact of this is. I don’t know if it really makes an argument for or against retro­activity.”


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