Report: State placed migrant children in Massachusetts hotels with registered sex offenders

BOSTON — State officials are working to remove some registered sex offenders who either live or work at hotels being used as emergency shelters for homeless families, many of them migrants with young children.

According to a Boston Globe report, an investigation by the newspaper suggests that the state failed to properly vet the sites before placing newly-arrived families as Massachusetts continues to grapple with a migrant crisis.

At least five of the hotels and one dormitory being used by the state as homeless shelters also housed or employed sex offenders who have been convicted of crimes against children, including child rape, indecent assault and battery on children, and child pornography, the Globe reported.

“For the past month, the state Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities — the agency that oversees the program for sheltering homeless families — has rebuffed the Globe’s requests for information about sex offenders in shelters,” the Globe reported. “The Globe requested the information as part of an in-depth review because the agency’s contracts require hotel providers to screen for sex offenders but not to bar them.”

“After the Globe independently identified sex offenders and asked for comment, a spokesman said late Thursday that the agency is in the process of removing the individuals. None are migrants,” the Globe reported.

In a statement to Boston 25 on Friday, a state spokesperson wrote, “The safety and wellbeing of the 7,500 families in Emergency Assistance shelter is a priority for our administration. We will continue to take all possible steps to ensure the safety of EA residents and carefully review any situation that comes before us to act quickly to protect families.”

Four of the five sex offenders identified at hotel sites are not part of the state’s emergency shelter system and were either hotel employees or private residents of the hotel, officials said. They have either been removed or are in the process of being removed from the hotels.

A fifth sex offender, who is an emergency shelter resident and single parent, is being relocated from the hotel to alternative shelter, officials said.

In a statement Friday, MassGOP Chairwoman Amy Carnevale said she was “disgusted” to learn of reports of convicted sex offenders living or working at hotels being used to house migrant children. She called it an “atrocious oversight” that highlights “Massachusetts’ failure in handling the migrant crisis.”

“As a parent, I am utterly disgusted by the State’s incompetence in housing child migrants alongside convicted child predators,” Carnevale said. “This glaring oversight underscores that Massachusetts is unable to handle the migrant crisis. The consequences are dire: residents lose access to community resources, the Democratic supermajority is spending billions of taxpayer dollars on perpetuating this crisis, and migrants themselves are put at serious risk.”

All prospective emergency shelter residents are screened through the Sex Offender Registry Board before being determined eligible to live in an emergency shelter, officials said. A Sex Offender Registry Board review is conducted every six months for all registered offenders near emergency shelters.

According to the state, the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities and contracted service providers maintain an incident reporting structure and collaborate with local law enforcement to address serious issues, including violations of shelter rules that have been in place since 2015.

If the state or a contracted service provider are made aware of a sex offender that is nearby, either living or working in the same location, emergency services protocol directs providers to notify families and to work with them to determine next steps, based on the the state’s sex offender reporting policy.

In March, a migrant living in an emergency shelter at a Rockland hotel was arrested on a child rape charge, accused of raping a 15-year-old girl who also lived at the shelter.

The Globe report on Friday about sex offenders either living or working in some of the state’s emergency shelters came days after state officials announced the former Bay State Correctional Center in Norfolk will be used as an emergency shelter beginning next month.

Dozens of migrants and their families will also be housed at the National Guard armory in Lexington, state officials said last month.

The decision to use the facilities in Norfolk and Lexington came as the state continues to grapple with a migrant crisis.

The state’s Emergency Assistance family shelter system has been operating at capacity for months amid a large influx of migrants to the Bay State.

In March, state officials set new requirements for families being housed at state overflow sites.

Last August, Gov. Maura Healey declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts due to the influx of migrant families arriving in the Bay State. The governor has called on the federal government to act to address the issue in Massachusetts.

In July, state officials announced the opening of a migrant shelter and resource center on the campus of Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, one of several shelters that have opened up in public and privately-owned locations across the state.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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