The news that registered Level 3 sex offender Starr Lloyd III has now been indicted by an Essex County grand jury for his February act of open and gross lewdness in front of a 12-year-old girl in Gloucester would, ideally, bring a sigh of relief from the victim's family and the community at large.
Unfortunately, it can't. That's because, while Lloyd — twice convicted of similar charges on the North Shore, and charged in an alleged 2009 Manchester rape of a 16-year-old girl that was never prosecuted — has had his case kicked up a notch from Gloucester District Court to Salem Superior Court, his arraignment there is not scheduled until May 11.
And — lo and behold — he remains free after his father paid his low-ball bail of $3,000 after his initial court appearance last month. That means that, despite carrying a Level 3 designation as one who is most likely to re-offend, he is indeed free to re-offend — thanks to a court system that once again has failed the victim, her family, and this entire community.
There is, at this point, plenty of blame to go around for this atrocity. It certainly falls in part with Judge Joseph Jennings, who — as we noted previously — weighed the district attorney's office request for $10,000 bail, and set it at $3,000 instead. That all but handed Lloyd a get-out-of-jail free card, considering his Manchester family had also covered a $25,000 bail bill when he faced the 2009 rape charge, filed after he allegedly broke into the home of and raped a 16-year-old girl for whom he had also bought alcohol.
While the case was never prosecuted — and the DA's office will not say why — whatever happened at least spurred officials to boost Lloyd from a Level 2 offender to a Level 3. That shows they recognized Lloyd as a greater danger.
So, there is now an even bigger and more timely question: Why did the DA's office, while pushing a $10,000 bail, not at least ask Judge Jennings to schedule a dangerousness hearing last month — one that would have given the judge a sound reason for holding Lloyd until such a hearing could be held?
Instead, all of us have to remain keenly aware that this Heights at Cape Ann resident — while ordered to stay away from the victim, and to only have "supervised visits" with anyone under the age of 18 — is nonetheless free to roam, despite his clear record of recidivism and two prior convictions on charges of open and gross lewdness.
According to the Gloucester police report, Lloyd admitted to exposing himself to the 12-year-old girl at his home, and told officers during his March interrogation at the police station that he "has a sexual problem and needs help."
It's frankly hard to tell which is more shameful — that our court system hasn't ordered Lloyd sent away to get the help he needs, or that Gloucester and Cape Ann residents can't get some assurance that this deviant is no longer free to re-offend yet again.
The DA's office, like the judge, owes community residents some hard-and-fast reasons for its kid-gloves handling of this decidedly kid-offensive case.