“The defendant … is not an employee but an independent contractor, and publishing his clients’ addresses as though his clients were his employers would mischaracterize the relationship,” Gants wrote.
The SJC ruling was sought by Francis X. Harding Jr. a self-employed home contractor whom the Sex Offender Registry Board has classified as a Level 3 sex offender, the most likely to reoffend.
According to the SJC, Harding pleaded guilty in 2015 to charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and possession of child pornography and was sentenced to five years of probation among other sanctions in Fall River District Court.
He was required to register as a sex offender and in the years since has listed his Newton home — where he has a workshop — as both his work and home address with the board, the SJC said.
The self-employed contractor has also regularly shared detailed invoices about the homes or businesses where he had worked with probation officers and was considered to be in compliance with his sentence, the SJC said.
But in March 2018, a Revere police officer spotted Harding at a shopping plaza where the officer was conducting a drug investigation, stopped him, and learned he was working at a house in Lynn repairing gutters, the SJC said.
Lynn police confirmed the information and also confirmed an infant child lived there – Harding was barred from working “with’ children under his sentence – leading District Court Judge Cynthia M. Brackett to find that Harding violated his probation.
Harding appealed, drawing support from the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the non-profit Massachusetts Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.
They jointly argued sex offenders already face major problems getting work and the public disclosure would drive drive away potential customers. Steady employment,