Five years ago, Florida’s Sexual Offender/Predator Unit told Massachusetts that a known sexual predator, John Coppinger, was moving to the state. Coppinger, 50, had been labeled a predator after two convictions in Florida. The Boston Herald reports that after settling in Falmouth, Ma., Coppinger continued committing sex crimes. Despite Florida’s warning of Coppinger’s move, he never appeared on the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board’s list of convicted criminals and his name was not forwarded to local police and made available to the public.
Coppinger is just one of dozens of convicted molesters and rapists from Florida who have slipped, announced or unannounced, into the Bay State and promptly fallen out of the view of either law enforcement, the public or both, a joint investigation by the Herald and Fox 25 television news found.
The Herald and Fox 25 reported yesterday that one-third of Massachusetts’ worst sex offenders are skirting the sex offender registry law by providing false addresses or failing to notify authorities when they move or change jobs. Charles McDonald, spokesman for the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board, said his agency works with other states to track migrating sex offenders, but admitted that the system is imperfect. “Massachusetts is registering out-of-state offenders,” McDonald said. “Do we get them all? Probably not. People move. This is a very transient population. These are people who like to fly under the radar and don’t like to tell people where they live.”
Losing track of migrating sex offenders can have dire consequences. Nathaniel Bar-Jonah was convicted of abducting young boys in Massachusetts in the 1970s and locked up as a “sexually dangerous person.” After he got out of prison, Bar-Jonah relocated to Montana in 1991. However, probation authorities there had no information about his background. Neither did the public until 1999 when the serial child molester was arrested next to an elementary school in a police uniform holding a stun gun. Last year he was convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting two boys in Great Falls.