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ex Coast Guard chief listed as Level 3 sex offender

SANDWICH — The next time he goes to town hall, Selectman James Pierce will see his son’s face on the bulletin board with two other Level 3 sex offenders.

David Pierce, 46, who was convicted of four counts of rape last year by a Barnstable Superior Court jury, was classified this week as a Level 3 sex offender by the state Sex Offender Registry Board. A Level 3 sex offender is considered the most likely to re-offend and has to register with the police department in the town where he or she lives, according to the state guidelines.

Pierce, a former chief officer with the Coast Guard in Provincetown, is the son of James Pierce, a member of the Sandwich Board of Selectmen. His son is living with him at his East Sandwich home, James Pierce said in an e-mail to the Times.

In a brief telephone interview, James Pierce said it’s a difficult issue, but one he’s disclosed to his fellow selectmen, as well as Town Manager George “Bud” Dunham. Posters of Level 3 sex offenders are tacked up in all town buildings and the police department goes door to door in the neighborhood handing out the fliers.

“It won’t be pleasant,” James Pierce said.

He did not take part in the board’s recent vote to hire a new police chief, he said, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The police department said it’s handling David Pierce’s case the same way it would any other registered sex offender.

“They’re all treated the same way,” Lt. David Guillemette said.

In an e-mail, James Pierce recommended people read the Times’ coverage of the February 2009 trial, which indicates his son may have been falsely accused. “Please pay particular attention to the account of a full day’s testimony the jury was not allowed to hear,” he wrote. “That testimony dealt with several other occasions in several other states and Massachusetts where the alleged victim, who was over 40 years old, made similar accusations against several other men.”

Details of other assault charges the woman initiated against past boyfriends and one of her past boyfriend’s sons emerged during an evidentiary hearing, but Judge Gary Nickerson ruled that the jury would not be allowed to hear about those instances.

Though David Pierce was convicted, his three- to four-year prison sentence was stayed by Nickerson, who presided over the case. Nickerson said at the time that he was taking the unusual step of allowing Pierce to be released on $50,000 cash bail or $500,000 surety because of the likelihood that the conviction would be overturned on appeal, according to Times archives.

David Pierce’s appeal is still pending. Oral arguments were heard before the state Appeals Court last month.

“It’s been argued, but we have not yet received a decision,” attorney James Merberg said Thursday. Merberg declined to comment on any other aspect of the case.

James Pierce said a Coast Guard review panel looked at the same set of facts and gave his son an honorable discharge with full benefits.

James Lehane, a neighbor of Pierce, said from what he knows about the facts of the case, he’s not concerned about David Pierce living nearby.

“Based on my knowledge of the crime he’s alleged to have committed, it doesn’t sound like this individual would be a threat to the neighborhood,” Lehane said.

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