Hank Investigates: Sex Offender Loophole - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Hank Investigates: Sex Offender Loophole

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This couple does everything they can to keep their kids safe. They don't want to show their faces on TV but they want people to know what happened when they moved to this Yarmouth neighborhood.

They checked online to see if any registered sex offenders lived nearby.
 
Mother: “It matters to us because we can keep an eye on our kids we can try to protect them as much as we can.”
 
Police say they should have seen this face:
Matthew Bisio – who raped a child. But they didn’t. Even though police say Bisio lived on the couple’s street.

Bisio is a level three sex offender--because the state believes he is dangerous and could hurt another child.

So why wasn’t he on the Yarmouth sex offender list?
Because he’d registered in Fall River --and said he was “homeless.”

Mother: “That’s scary.”

And our investigation discovered many offenders are exploiting a loophole in the law: They register their address as "homeless" which is legal, but then simply live--under the radar--anywhere they want, which isn't legal.
 
Hank: "So sex offenders are using this loophole to hide from police?"
Officer Albert Sprague, Yarmouth Police: "Yes."
Hank: "And from the public."
Officer Albert Sprague: "Yes."
Hank: "And it works?"
Officer Albert Sprague: "Yes. They don’t want the stigma, or  the fact that the police come to wherever they're staying to check on them. They don't want the neighbors to know, they don’t want law enforcement in their business.
Hank: “So they lie?”
Officer Albert Sprague: “They lie.”
 
Did this man lie? Police in Arlington say Essie Billingslea, a convicted level three sex offender, with a history of violence, broke into a woman’s home and viciously attacked and raped her a week ago.

Records show Billingslea is registered at One Blackstone Road. That’s the Long Island Homeless Shelter, located here in the middle of Boston Harbor.  A place so remote this is as close as we can get. But police are investigating whether he actually lived in Arlington.  

Many sex offenders register their address as a homeless shelter. But officials at one well-known shelter tell me 75 percent of the sex offenders who claim to live there, don’t.
 
Arlington police told us about another case from just two months ago. They say this sex offender, David Simon, registered as homeless in Arlington, but was really living in Lynn.
 
Chief Frederick Ryan, Arlington Police: “The result of a homeless person gaming the system results in an added level of danger in the community.”
 
Back in Yarmouth, the police arrested Bisio in February and charged him with failure to register.  But they know he’s just one example of a statewide problem.

Hank: “What happened here in Yarmouth could happen in any city or town in Massachusetts?”
Officer Albert Sprague: “Yes.”
Hank: “Do you think it does?”
Officer Albert Sprague: “Yes.”
Hank: “Do you think the public knows that?”
Officer Albert Sprague: “Not to the extent they should, no.”

And now--no one understands that better than this family… who trusted a system that failed them.

Father: “It’s disturbing.”  

We’ve learned some local police departments are teaming up to share information about homeless sex offenders. They’re hoping it will help them catch offenders who are lying about where they live.  

If you have a story idea, please email us at tellhank@whdh.com 
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