Police chief says allowing registered sex offender to live near preschool was a “terrible mistake”

by susan on October 4, 2012

The Metrowest Daily News had a chance to talk with Police Chief Jane Moran this week about why a registered Level 2 sex offender was allowed to live near a preschool for more than two years despite a town bylaw prohibiting it.

“It’s just a terrible mistake,” Moran told the newspaper. “It was (an) oversight.”

Moran told the MWDN Daniel J. Goichman, 50, who was arrested earlier this week on child pornography charges, registered his address as 26 East Main St., Apt. 2F with police in July 2010. That’s just a few houses down from Southborough Village Preschool. A 30-year veteran of the Southborough Police Department handled the registration, but failed to make the connection.

The MWDN reports multiple images of child pornography were found on Goichman’s computer when it was searched on September 27, including images of girls as young as 4 or 5 years old posing nude in sexual positions. Goichman pleaded not guilty in Westborough District Court Monday to three counts of possessing child pornography.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen John Rooney earlier this week called the mistake “preventable,” and said an internal investigation into police procedures had been launched.

“I think it’s unfortunate that it slipped through the cracks, but fortunately it was caught,” Selectman Bill Boland, who lives on East Main Street, said on Tuesday.

“More information needs to come out about what happened,” Boland said. “I’m comfortable that the chief is doing that now.”

[Ed. note: The MWDN names the individual at the police station who took the report from Goichman. Many of you are rightly outraged by this incident, and it's clear mistakes were made, but I ask you to refrain from personal attacks and keep the conversation focused on what needs to be done to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again.]

{ 12 comments }

1 Karen October 4, 2012 at 9:43 AM

I think as a parent I must be proactive to protect my children. I plan on requesting the sex offender registry from the police department on a regular basis. There are many things to be aware of as a parent, and I am going to look at this as something that simply must be done.

2 Shana Rowan October 4, 2012 at 2:27 PM

I understand that Mr. Goichman was in violation of a town ordinance. I also understand that he was arrested recently for child pornography. BUT-

In the 2 years that he lived there, were any of the school children abducted or molested by him? Did his presence actually present any danger to them? it is really easy to say that it was only a matter of time, but frankly, there’s little to no research to back up claims that people who view CP actually go on to commit hands-on offenses.

It’s easy to get really outraged by one relatively isolated incident and forget that the likelihood is there ARE people living near the school (and far away from it) who have or will commit sexual abuse who aren’t on the registry. It is a good time to re-examine policies that only target people on the registry and realize that more needs to be done about prevention, utilizing facts and research, than on post-release punishment for a non-homogenous group of people.

3 Mark Ford October 4, 2012 at 7:28 PM

…”In February [2012], State Police obtained information that a registered sex offender was soliciting minors over the Internet. On Sept. 27, police searched Goichman’s Southborough home and seized evidence they believed was child pornography.” (boston.com metrodesk, 10/2).

From the Southborough Daily Voice: “Police say that at least two images found on Goichman’s laptop hard drive are known images recorded at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A complete examination of the hard drive is ongoing.”

To answer your question, did his presence present any danger to the children who went to preschool nearby?–I say an unqualified yes. We may well have apprehended an individual looking for missing and exploited children on line, soliciting minors over the internet, and in possession of child porn living close to a child-care center. (This at a cursory examination of his actions.) Are you kidding me?

4 Kelly Roney October 5, 2012 at 3:02 PM

Agreed, Mark. We have already made an educated political decision about the risk of sex offenders. Pedophiles have a very high rate of recidivism (as do abusers of children who have attained puberty but are still legally and in reality children) and thus these abusers clearly pose a significant risk, even if that risk did not result in abuse of one of our children. Not this time, anyway.

The law should have been enforced. We are fortunate that nothing awful happened in our community, but we should remember that child pornography is never a victimless crime.

5 Joe Mercadante October 4, 2012 at 5:27 PM

I was quoted in the MWDN story. It’s his job to use that which makes the story more interesting, but, here’s a more accurate rundown of what I said:
1.) At that point, I didn’t know that much about the case.
2.) I trust that the Southborough Village Preschool owners, management, and staff will protect my daughter.
3.) I did suggest that IF the issue occurred as a result of an administrative assistant mistake (this is what the reporter told me – I don’t know if it’s true), then it would make sense for checks and balances to be put in place.

I think our police department does a good job. All organizations, especially those charged with public safety (SF Police included), should continually review their processes and procedures. We as a town should make sure they have the tools, personnel, and funding to do their job. We are all in this together.

6 John Simmons October 4, 2012 at 11:35 PM

Folks reading the comments here should know that the poster of an earlier comment, Shana Rowan, is a notorious apologist for sex offenders. A simple google search turned up: http://evil-unveiled.com/Shana_Rowan. Ms. Rowan questions the likelihood of recidivism of convicted sex offenders. This particular offender, Daniel J. Goichman, was convicted of sexual battery of a child, and now, he was found to be collecting child pornography; this is the very definition of recidivism. The children of Southborough (and us parents) are extremely lucky that the Massachusetts State Police take this type of crime seriously and caught this monster before he victimized another child.

Secondly, it is with some regret that I have to point out some serious lapses of the Southborough Police Department. Chief Moran’s suggestion (MWDN 10/04/2012) that the Town’s new computer aided dispatch system would somehow prevent a similar occurrence glosses over that fact that this lapse was entirely (and very easily) preventable. Southborough already has a state-of-the-art geographic information system, easily accessible to everyone at the Town’s official website, southboroughtown.com (just click on “GIS”). I was able to map the location of this predator in less than 30 seconds. Within another couple of minutes I was able to map the location of every school in Southborough. In fact, using the handy “Find Abutters” function on the Southborough GIS website, I found “14 East Main Street” (the address of Southborough Village Preschool) as the fifth listing when searching for abutters within 1000 feet of the address of this convicted child predator.

Lastly, the explanation of this incident offered by Chairman of the Board of Selectman John Rooney (in this blog, on 10/2/2012) is inaccurate, bordering on deliberate falsehood.

1. He says: “It was not entered into any database because the department does not have that technology.” The Town DOES have that technology. It is easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection through the Town’s own website. Mr. Rooney, go to southboroughtown.com and click on “GIS.” It’s right there.

2. He also says: “I have also called for a complete report on the police department’s outdated technology and the costs associated with bringing that technology into compliance with contemporary police operations.” This was NOT a problem caused by outdated technology. This was a human error. No amount of technology (or additional tax dollars) would have prevented it.

Mr. Rooney goes on to caution us against blaming the police department, because they “can only operate with the tools they are given.” The undeniable fact is they had the tools. They just didn’t use them.

The oversight that clearly occurred is a serious one. Making excuses will not prevent a recurrence.

I think the Southborough Police Department needs to admit they made a mistake. Period. No rationalization, justification or excuses. Just, “We screwed up.” Then, make a public commitment to taking the sex offender registry as seriously as it deserves.

To err is human, but to make excuses, especially in a situation like this, is offensive.

7 Frank Crowell October 5, 2012 at 10:40 AM

Mr. Simmons,

That is a very good post and I agree with much of what you have said. I respect Mr. Rooney for what he has done (particularly with what he walked into) and will wait for the complete investigation before I come to my final conclusions. With that said, I will be hard pressed to side with anyone who determines this is a funding issue.

8 Kelly Roney October 5, 2012 at 3:06 PM

John, please consider the simple possibility of error before going straight to “deliberate falsehood”. I don’t think you have any evidence for that.

I’ve used the online GIS a few times, but I didn’t recall the abutter feature.

9 Cody2012 November 27, 2012 at 11:48 AM

…And Shana Rowan is right. For some reason, people don’t want to listen to or heed obviously fact-based stats about SO’s recidivism rate, which is the lowest among all criminals. Facts do not lie.

10 Northsider October 5, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Shana,
there is no BUT when it comes to child pornography

the Southborough Police Department did make a mistake, period. The sex offender registry and those on it need to be taken seriously. I ask those of you who read this blog this question, “when you look at real estate do you even look to see if there are offenders living in that neighborhood or that street?” i do.

11 Newcomer October 5, 2012 at 11:15 AM

As a relocation specialist and someone that has moved 10 times in 15 years, YES and I advise all my clients to look at the registry as well as look into location of shelters, halfway houses, schools, social services, senior centers etc. I have learned through the years too many people are lured by home prices (highs and lows), reputation of town and “looks” all are important but other things are just as important.

12 John Rooney October 5, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Mr. Simmons, Thank you for participating in the public discourse. I generally make it a point not to respond back-in-forth with comments that are critical of my opinion or statements. I fully understand that part of putting yourself out in the public as a selectman requires acceptance of negative commentary. I do draw the line, however, when the comment is patently false and presumably made for some ulterior motive.

Your assertion that I deliberately put forth a falsehood crosses the line. In an effort to immediately inform the public what they demanded and had a right to know, I embarked in an effort to gather facts. In that rushed effort I was presented with information that seemed to point to a technology deficit as a contributing factor in this matter. Once I returned from business in Texas and was able to conduct the investigation in person and in more depth, I discovered additional facts that resulted in my most recent correspondence. You will see that a technology-based excuse is no where to be found in my correspondence, as my personal investigation revealed that even if the police had graduated from their current MS DOS mode of operation, technology, or the lack thereof, was not the genesis of this situation. In my effort to do what I thought was in the best interest of the town, namely, to get as much information out in the public as I could, I made the mistake of relying on representations the viability of which has been undermined.

I welcome you to take off whatever colored glasses you wear and view this effort from within rather than from a distance. It is always much easier to throw grenades than it is to catch them, but before you pull the pin at least make an effort to understand from a non-personal viewpoint the objective being advanced. It was not to mislead or spread misinformation; it was to simply provide information as soon as possible in this age of immediate dissemination.

I realize I should take advice from the weather, insofar as it does not listen to criticisms. My skin has thickened but on occasion the sharpest arrow gets through. But your arrow, though piercing, will not prevent me from trying my hardest to do what I think is in the best interests of this town.

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