A Maine man with a history of sexual assaults on teenage boys was ordered held by a federal judge yesterday as a sexually dangerous person, making him the first person in the country to be successfully committed by a federal court, Boston U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan’s office tells the Boston Globe. Jeffrey Shields, 47, of Bath, was committed under the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the first law that allows federal commitment for sexually dangerous offenders. Judge Patti B. Saris issued her ruling after a 10-day trial in September that showed Shields had groped teenage boys on multiple occasions and that he had suffered sexual abuse himself as a child.
The judge’s ruling means Shields will be held indefinitely under the jurisdiction of the U.S. attorney general’s office and receive sexual offender treatment. Once he has undergone treatment, he can petition the court to prove he is no longer a risk to reoffend. After serving several state prison terms, Shields was convicted in federal court in 2002 of possessing child pornography, and federal prosecutors sought to have him committed after his release from prison in 2006. One of his lawyers, John Swomley, was disappointed with the judge’s ruling, noting that a 12-member jury that served an advisory role declared that while Shields had a mental illness, it could not conclude unanimously that he would likely reoffend.