The state's highest court heard arguments for whether or not a Massachusetts DA had the authority to civilly commit a serial child rapist.
A court rejected the Plymouth County DA's petition to commit child rapist Richard Gardner because he was considered a Rhode Island prisoner at the time.
The Plymouth County district attorney admitted he failed to ask a judge to declare Gardner sexually dangerous when he was originally released in 2016.
When Gardner later was picked up on a Rhode Island probation violation, Gardner's attorney said the District Attorney tried to move Gardner back to Massachusetts for treatment.
"At the end of the day, I can not stand at the border and say 'Red Rover, Red Rover, send Gardner right over,'" said Gail McKenna of the Plymouth County DA's office. "There is nothing Massachusetts can do. The only way he comes here is if Rhode Island sends him."
The district attorney admitted to making a mistake years ago in the case, but now say the lower court made a mistake by dismissing their petition.
“Today’s arguments were about our intent to vigorously appeal the Superior Court’s erroneous dismissal of our case, which sought treatment and rehabilitation of Mr. Gardner as a person fitting within the eligibility criteria for the Sexually Dangerous Persons statute," the district attorney's office said in a statement. "Our office’s efforts are also about continuing to work to keep our communities safe. We believe the court will agree that our case was properly filed.”
The district attorney said Gardner will be held at the Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous in Bridgewater until the legal situation is resolved.
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