A 79-year-old Sandwich man convicted of child rape in 2004 is facing the prospect of civil commitment to a treatment center for sexually dangerous offenders. William Mulcahy was temporarily committed Friday to the Massachusetts Treatment Center at the Bridgewater Correctional Complex at least until a Dec. 10 probable cause hearing. The hearing will determine whether he has a mental or personality disorder that makes him likely to re-offend.
A longtime Eucharistic minister and former State Department official, Mulcahy was sentenced to five to eight years in prison after being convicted of six counts of rape and abuse of a child. A woman had said she walked in on him having sex with her 8-year-old daughter.
Friday’s temporary commitment will prevent Mulcahy from being immediately released when his prison sentence is up Monday, said Brian Glenny, a Cape and Islands assistant district attorney, as quoted by the Cape Cod Times.
Mulcahy’s advanced age makes him an unusual candidate for a civil commitment, which can be for a day or a lifetime, his attorney, William Korman of Boston, told the newspaper. “There’s been nobody this old they’ve filed against before,” Korman said. “This is unusual, to say the least.”
The district attorney’s office took the step of filing a petition to commit Mulcahy after an initial expert hired by the court concluded he is sexually dangerous, meaning he may have a disorder that would make it difficult for him to control the impulse to re-offend, Glenny said.
If at least one of two doctors determine Mulcahy is sexually dangerous, the civil commitment issue will go to trial after the probable cause hearing, officials said.
A state statute allows sexually dangerous criminals to be civilly committed after their sentences have been served. They can challenge their commitment on an annual basis.
Korman questioned the need to confine an elderly man indefinitely, saying few sexual offenders are active into their 80s.
In Mulcahy’s case, Korman said, “He’ll be on probation until he’s 95.”
The Sandwich police investigation of Mulcahy led to other sexual assault victims, including a young man and a woman in her 20s who said she was molested when she was 13.
The Sandwich police also said they received letters from several young women who claimed Mulcahy had molested or raped them during his overseas appointments with the State Department.
Mulcahy was a familiar face in Sandwich’s Roman Catholic community, according to the Cape Cod Times. For years, he volunteered at Corpus Christi Church, where he was a Eucharistic minister and participated in a program called “Liturgy of the Word for Children.”