Defendant moves to stop 'harassment'
At a pretrial hearing in Edgartown District Court Friday, the attorney for Blake Richards, the Tisbury man charged in two separate cases of open and gross lewdness, accused the Tisbury Police of harassing his client.
Mr. Richards's lawyer, John Boyle of Edgartown, said police had parked a cruiser in front of his client's house and asked the judge in the case to end police activities he said were only intended to harass his client.
Tisbury Police Chief John Cashin told The Times that he has been keeping a close watch on Mr. Richards's neighborhood, much to the relief of anxious neighbors. The chief denied that his visits were for the purpose of harassing Mr. Richards.
"I have been going up to the neighborhood every day when I have a chance," said Chief Cashin. "I've gotten to know the neighbors up there, and they've all expressed some degree of welcome and relief that I'm there." Chief Cashin said he sits in a marked cruiser about a tenth of a mile from Mr. Richard's Tisbury residence.
Mr. Richards was in court Friday in connection with two separate incidents in which the 37-year-old computer technician is accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.
The first case stemmed from an incident that occurred on March 15, when Mr. Richards allegedly exposed himself and made inappropriate comments to a woman while he was working on a computer in her office.
The woman reported the incident to the Tisbury police. Mr. Richards was arraigned on March 21 on one count of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior and was released on bail.
Following news reports of that incident in The Times, a family that lives in Mr. Richards's neighborhood reconsidered an earlier decision not to file a report stemming from an incident family members said occurred last year.
According to court testimony, Mr. Richards allegedly exposed himself and made sexually explicit remarks to a 12-year-old babysitter last October.
Mr. Blake was arraigned on April 12 and charged with one charge of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior and a second charge of enticing.
Chief Cashin attended court Friday for Mr. Richards's pretrial hearing, but said he was unaware until that morning that the motion would be filed.
"Obviously whatever the court's decision is I'll carry that out," Chief Cashin said. "But I'm going to continue doing my job." He went on to say that he is not harassing or even interacting with Mr. Richards or his family.
The motion argued by Mr. Boyle was filed with pictures of a Tisbury Police car parked in the neighborhood, taken from inside Mr. Richards's home, and a copy of a news brief published in The Times on March 29 that described Mr. Richards's March 21 arrest.
The motion states, "The Tisbury Police gave statements to the Martha's Vineyard Times...which was an advertisement to people to come forward and make complaints about the defendant and further, on March 29, 2007 the Police Department parked a cruiser in front of the defendant's house for no other purpose but to harass and intimidate the defendant. The action of the police is interfering with the defendant's right to a fair and impartial trial."
In a brief telephone conversation Tuesday evening, Mr. Richards referred all comments to his lawyer. On Wednesday morning, Mr. Boyle declined to comment.
Mr. Richards is currently free on personal recognizance and must observe an 8 pm to 7 am curfew. He is due back in court May 24, for a hearing on the motion against the police.
Police said that since the two formal charges were filed, four more accusers have come forward alleging inappropriate sexual behavior by Mr. Richards. But none of the four incidents, dating back to 2003, was judged to be a crime that might be prosecuted. All four of the additional victims were adults, and the incidents took place while Mr. Richards was helping them with computer problems in their offices or homes.