Photo by File
Massachusetts Parole Board member Maureen Walsh, center, listens during a hearing in March.
The state Parole Board is shrugging its shoulders over the release of a killer con who now faces rape charges, maintaining it had "no power" over his actions once it set him free.
And the board's chairwoman is cruising to a judgeship without so far having to address that, or any other controversial parole case that occurred on her watch.
The parole boss, Maureen Walsh, is up for associate justice of Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown.
Walsh was in charge of the state Parole Board last year when it set free Charles "Chucky" Doucette, a violent con who served 18 years for gunning down a pal in 1987.
The 49-year-old killer, who committed a pair of armed home invasions while out on bail before his murder conviction, was arrested Saturday on charges he raped his live-in lover's best friend in a Haverhill apartment. He is being held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing next week in Haverhill District Court.
Walsh did not return repeated calls for comment, but Terrel Harris, a spokesman for the Executive Office of Public Safety, which oversees the Parole Board, said, "She has absolutely no power over what (Doucette) did after he was paroled."
The panel - which voted 4-2 in 2006 to release the killer - is prohibited from releasing information on how individual members voted, Harris said.
In the Haverhill rape case, police allege Doucette threatened his victim and "coerced" her into sex by telling her he was going to pummel her friend if she didn't do it.
"He stated he was going to go home and punch (his girlfriend) in the face. He told (her) he might even kill her," the alleged victim claimed in a police report.
The hulking 6-foot-3-inch former mechanic also told the woman he was "a very dangerous man" who had served 18 years in prison.
Walsh did not inform the Governor's Council - the independent board tasked with screening judicial candidates - of the Doucette case or any other potentially controversial parole matters, according to Governor's Councilor Thomas Merrigan, a former judge who presided over her nomination hearing at the State House on Wednesday.
But, he said, it would not have changed his decision to put her on the bench.
"It wasn't anything that I was aware of, but I don't think it would have changed my or anyone else's view," Merrigan said. "Whenever you're in a decision-making role like her, you do the best you can with what you've got and you can't guarantee the future. No one has a crystal ball."
Councilors asked her few questions during the hearing, but offered her praise and reportedly, in one case, a hug at its conclusion. The board will formally vote on the judgeship as soon as next week.
The six-member Parole Board freed Doucette in February 2007 despite vehement opposition from Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett and the family of Doucette's victim, Raymond Bufalino. Bufalino worked at Doucette's father's Gloucester gas station and was executed with two shots to the head.
Doucette's attorney in the murder case, Robert George, called the new charges "tragic."
"I've never seen this side of him. It's not my experience he's a sex offender of any type," he said. "This alleged crime is something that just isn't part of the makeup of the Charles Doucette that I know."