By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL — Prosecutors pushed for a jail term for a registered sex offender charged with exposing himself to his neighbor, but a judge decided to continue the case without a finding for two years.
That means the accused man — Steven March, 51 — will face no punishment if he stays out of trouble during those two years.
March is registered with the state as a Level 3 sex offender. According to the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board, Level 3 offenders have a high risk of reoffending. March was convicted on Sept. 13, 1994, of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, according to the board. He was also convicted on Oct. 19, 1999, of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, the board said.
At a hearing Tuesday in Haverhill District Court, Assistant District Attorney Stephen Patten asked Judge Stephen Abany to find March guilty of the most recent charge against him — allegedly exposing himself to his female neighbor on June 9 of last year. Patten argued that March be sentenced to six months in the house of correction because of the charge and his registered sex offender status.
Patten pointed out March’s prior conviction of indecent assault on a person under 14. Patten also said March failed to register as a sex offender in the past.
But Abany told March he was going to “take a chance” on him by continuing the case without a finding for one year. Patten then asked the judge to make it two years to give the victim some peace of mind, and Abany agreed. Abany told March he must avoid any intentional contact with the woman and her family.
Reached by phone last night, March denied exposing himself to his neighbor. He said it is unfortunate his prior convictions many years ago follow him.
According to a police report on file in Haverhill District Court, a woman told police that on June 9 about 1 p.m., she was on her porch when she looked across the driveway and saw March standing on the second-floor porch of his home at 10 Ford St., Apt. 2, wearing a black bathrobe. According to the report, she said March entered his apartment, and then turned around at his doorway and opened his robe to expose his nude body. She said March exposed himself “purposely” and that she was willing to go to court so charges could be brought against him, the report said. March was subsequently charged with indecent exposure.
The woman told police she was aware that March is a Level 3 sex offender and because of that, she keeps close watch on her children and their friends when they are outside playing, the report said. She said none of her children saw him expose himself on his porch.
In the report, March told police a different version of the incident. He said he had left a phone on his porch and turned around to retrieve it. He told police his robe may have opened but it was “inadvertent” and that the woman might have seen his “nude reflection” off the glass outer door, the report said. He told police he did not expose himself “purposely,’’ the report said.
March told police he was about to take a shower when he realized his phones were in the hot sunlight on his porch, so he went outside for a moment in his bathrobe to retrieve them. He told police he is a Level 3 sex offender, that he is registered with Haverhill Police and that he has not had any other violations in the last 13 years. March said he was getting ready to go church with his mother and wanted the phones with him in case she called before picking him up, the report said. His mother showed up at his apartment around the same time officers arrived, police said.
Last night, March told The Eagle-Tribune that the woman living across from him and who reported him always watches him, as do other neighbors. He said that on the day in question he was actually in the doorway of his apartment and that he had a cast on one hand and two phones in the other hand while trying to close the slider door.
“The judge said I did well by not having any sex offenses in 13 years,” March said last night. “Although I felt like I could have won at a trial, I could not risk going to trial because of family problems.”
March said his mother died last month and that he was named executor of her will and estate. He said his 24-year-old son needs him because he has personal problems, and that his 49-year-old sister has asked for his help because she has mental disabilities.
March said he did fail to register as a sex offender in 2006, but that it was a misunderstanding. He said he was moving out of a roommate’s apartment in Peabody and into a trailer park when he forgot to notify police that he was moving. He said his ADHD results in him often to forget to fill out paperwork and that a judge understood he had a disability and gave him five years probation instead of a jail sentence. March said he is on disability for mental health and well as physical health issues, but plans to enter a mental health inpatient program as soon as possible.
March was scheduled for a trial on Tuesday, but instead the judge continued the case without a finding after March admitted to sufficient facts. March was ordered to comply with sex offender registration requirements, including counseling and reporting to probation each month for the next two years.
According to the judge’s ruling at Tuesday’s hearing, March is also not allowed to be outside his apartment or on his porch, except to approach or leave his home. He must also comply with sex offender registry requirements and continue treatment and counseling. He must report to probation monthly until April 23, 2015, and pay a monthly probation fee of $65. A status hearing was scheduled for May 23.