The Supreme Judicial Court on Monday reversed the indefinite incarceration of Roy L. Hunt, a Brockton man convicted in 1990 of three counts of rape of a child and then kept in prison as a “sexually dangerous person” after he concluded his sentence.
Reversing an Appeals Court decision upholding a verdict in Plymouth Superior Court, the state’s highest court ordered Hunt be given another trial on his civil commitment as a sexually dangerous person.
“We are certainly disappointed, but we respect the decision and we intend to retry the case,” said Russ Eonas, an assistant district attorney in Plymouth County.
Eonas declined to comment on the specific merits of the decision but said “obviously, we’d retry it within the confines of the SJC’s decision.”
The SJC found Judge Jeffrey Locke improperly admitted evidence of rumors that Hunt had sexually assaulted someone in prison, as well as the disclosure that Hunt had refused to participate in therapy while in prison – if he had participated, the information gleaned from that therapy could be used against him in future court proceedings.
“Because sex offender treatment without confidentiality is so laden with risk for the sex offender, and the relationship of trust between therapist and sex offender so compromised, we draw a distinction between a prisoner not receiving sex offender treatment and a prisoner’s refusal of such treatment,” read the opinion by Justice Ralph Gants.
Hunt admitted in December 1990 that he molested and later repeatedly raped on a weekly basis the young daughter of his live-in girlfriend.
Hunt, who is 54 and from Brockton, was sentenced to eight to 15 years in prison in 1990.
In June 2004, prosecutors sought to keep Hunt imprisoned as a sexually dangerous person, and a judge agreed to temporarily hold him in the Massachusetts Treatment Center within the Bridgewater Correctional Complex.
In September 2007, a judge found probable cause to proceed with a civil commitment trial and in June 2008 he was found by a jury to be a sexually dangerous person, under the 1999 law, and sentenced to an indeterminate period of one day to life in the Bridgewater facility.
The 1999 “sexually dangerous” law is unique and distinct from criminal laws because it incarcerates a person for his or her potential to commit a sexual crime in the future, not for an offense already committed.
Eonas said that Hunt will remain in custody pending the outcome of his new “sexually dangerous person” hearing.