In 1987 SN was convicted in NH of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Minor. He was given probation. In 1999 he was convicted again of aggravated sexual assault of a minor and was sentenced to 9-18 years in NH State Prison. He served his time, was paroled, and successfully completed his parole. He was living in NH and was fully registered under the NH Sex Offender Registration Law. SN’s wife founded and opened a church in Massachusetts in a town in Essex County. SN would come down from NH to preach at the church on Sundays. He did this on a volunteer basis without any pay. A private citizen did some research on SN and discovered that he was a convicted sex offender in NH. In July of 2022 she notified the local police.
The local police confirmed his two convictions in NH for sex offenses and they confirmed that he was registered as a sex offender in NH. They confirmed with the Massachusetts SORB (Sex Offender Registry Board) that he was not registered in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Law requires that if you live in MA or if you are employed in MA or if you go to school on MA and if you are a convicted sex offender (in any state) then you must register in MA. The police called SN in for an interrogation. The police asked about his position at the church. He said he was a pastor at the church and came down on Sundays to preach – something he enjoyed doing and for which he received no compensation. The police charged SN with Failing to Register in Haverhill District Court.
The statute reads as follows: ” ..a sex offender residing or working in the commonwealth or working at or attending an institution of higher learning in the commonwealth, shall … register”. The legal question raised in SN’s case is: :Does doing volunteer preaching without pay constitute working? At first blush, most people would say that in order to be considered “working” one must get paid. The Sex Offender Registration Statute, however, and the Code of Massachusetts Regulations defines work as “employment … whether compensated or uncompensated“.