Dangerousness hearing for sex offender days before he’s set to be released from prison

Photo: Sex Offender Registry

BROCKTON, Mass. (WPRI) – A convicted serial child molester, who terrorized young boys in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, was back in court Friday, just days before he’s set to be released from prison.

Prosecutors admit they made a mistake by not asking a judge to civilly commit Richard Gardner when he gets out of prison for a second time next week.

“When you look at every time that man has been released out into the world, he’s snatched children,” said Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz. “So, every time he’s had an opportunity to be released he’s done something wrong, and he needs to stop it now.”

The 50-year-old was first convicted in 1989 for kidnapping and raping two Warwick boys, as well as kidnapping a Providence boy. He appealed that conviction, but later pleaded guilty in the case in 1993.

Gardner, a level-three sex offender, was originally supposed to serve a 190 year sentence. He served just 28 years of that time, much of it in the ocean state, before being transferred in 2004 to serve a similar sentence in Massachusetts.

A psychologist testified in Brockton Superior Court Friday, saying Gardner would likely commit similar crimes if he were to be released again.

“These [his crimes] were impulsive,” Dr. Mark Shaefer said. “Grab a kid and take off. That is very hard to stop.”

As we’ve previously reported, Gardner violated the terms of his probation just days after getting out of prison the first time, by using a Quincy town library computer to look at pictures of young boys without shirts. He has been incarcerated since this incident in October of last year.