Campus Warned of Sex Offender

The Phillips Academy campus is on alert after the Public Safety Department cautioned students in an e-mail about the presence of a registered sex offender in the town of Andover. The e-mail message, which included links to photographs and physical descriptions, also identified a second man who has been ordered to remain off campus for an unrelated incident. Students have been asked to contact PAPS if they see the sex offender, John Patrick Bowen, or the second man, Lee Lucas. According to the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board, Bowen is a level 3 sex offender. A sex offender is classified as level 3 when “the Board determines that the risk of re-offense is high and the degree of dangerousness posed to the public is such that a substantial public safety interest is served by active dissemination.” Sex offenders are categorized by four levels, the fourth and most dangerous being “sexually violent predator.” The Registry website said that sex offenders are not wanted by the police, but information about them is posted on the registry “to educate the public and to prevent further victimization.” Because the state has determined that Bowen is at high risk for committing another crime, it feels that the community of Andover has the right to know of his classification as a sex offender and should be able to access his identification information. According to the Andover Police Department’s website, Bowen committed two crimes: “assault with intent to commit rape” in 1988 in Malden, MA, and “open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior” in 2001 in North Reading, MA. Andrea Gregory of the Andover Townsman, who wrote an article on sex offenders in Andover, said that although Bowen’s crimes did not occur in Andover, he had to register as a sex offender with police because he clams residence here. Gregory said that the Academy was not notified until now, almost three years after Bowen’s last crime and six years after he moved here, because Massachusetts approved a sex offender registry law in 1996 that was later temporarily invalidated. In 2001, a revised version of the law became active, causing state officials to begin the long process of categorizing registered offenders according to their current danger levels. After being registered, Bowen was recently classified as a level 3 offender, and the Andover Police Department was notified. The police informed 34 agencies in Andover, including schools throughout town, of Bowen’s presence. Andover Police Lieutenant Philip Froburg said authorities are legally bound to notify schools in a town where a person has been classified as a level 3 sex offender. Bowen is not the only sex offender in Andover listed on the Massachusetts registry. There is one other level 3 sex offender and six level 2 sex offenders. The police may also be notified of additional offenders as the state continues its classification of all sex offenders, Gregory said. However, Gregory also said the school was notified of Bowen and not the others because only level 3 offenders are publicized. The second level 3 offender is currently challenging his categorization, and police are not authorized to publicize him as a sex offender until the matter of his danger level is settled by the courts. Though Director of Personnel and Business Services Deborah Martin said the Academy is not currently alerting students of level 2 offenders, she promised that students would be sent another e-mail informing them of any future classifications of level 3 sex offenders. The incident concerning Lucas, the second man mentioned in the Academy’s e-mail to students, occurred before winter break. Ms. Martin said PAPS discovered a poster propped up on the Main Street side of the Memorial Bell Tower. The poster was a “collage of documents and material related to [Lucas’] life,” Martin said. Public Safety Department Manager Tom Conlon said PAPS realized that the poster was probably from an external source because it contained Lucas’ name. PAPS then confiscated the poster and contacted the Andover Police Department. “When the Andover Police Department investigated, they determined that [the poster] was a product of Mr. Lee Lucas who has left similar items in the greater Andover area,” Ms. Martin said. The police were familiar with Lucas and knew background information about him that caused them to feel the school would not want him on campus. However, the police would not describe that background information. The Academy acted upon the Police Department’s recommendation to issue Lucas a No Trespass Notice, meaning that Lucas would be arrested if he were to enter school grounds. The school generally issues No Trespass Notices to an average of two people per year. Dean of Students Marlys Edwards said that the school had a responsibility to inform students of both Lucas and Bowen. “[The school is] not legally bound [to notify students], but it seems reasonable, if we have such information, to share it with the community,” she said. Mr. Conlon reminded students to “realize their surroundings and be cautious. [PAPS] want[s] people to use good judgment in what they do.”