WESTFIELD – A city firefighter alleged to have enticed a child on-was released from custody March 29 with conditions to ensure the safety of children in the community, at the conclusion of a dangerousness hearing in Westfield District Court.
Richard R. Paul, 42, of 25 Montgomery St., Southampton, was arraigned before Judge Charles Groce March 22 on a charge of enticing a child younger than 16 years-of-age and held pending the hearing designed to reasonably assure the safety of individuals or the community.
According to a court document filed in the case by Westfield Det. Jason Williams, Paul had been caught in an online sting operation conducted by a Newbury Police detective working with the Massachusetts Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force when he initiated contact with the detective who was using a screen name which suggested “the account belonged to someone under the age of 18.”
Williams reports that the detective was posing as a girl in an online chat room and, when asked by Paul how old ‘she’ was, the detective told the Paul that ‘she’ was 13-years-old.
The report details how Paul allegedly posed “sexually suggestive questions” to the ‘girl’ and had offered to meet ‘her’ saying “We could go out if you pretend to be my daughter lol” and “We could go shopping but you gotta call me dad.”
Williams’ report also states that Paul asked the ‘girl’ about ‘her’ body and “asked her if she wanted to ‘learn’ through messages and ‘irl later if you want’, which stands for in real life — which is alluding to having sex with her.” He also reports that the defendant repeatedly asked the ‘girl’ if ‘she’ wanted to go to a hotel with him.
The investigators obtained search warrants and, according to Williams’ report, Paul “was identified by police officers that know him as he is currently employed as a firefighter with the City of Westfield. The search warrant results also revealed that the crimes were committed at the Northside Fire Station No. 3 at 129 Southampton Road in Westfield, which is where Mr. Paul works.”
At the time of his arraignment, Paul was held without right to bail pending the dangerousness hearing which began on Thursday before Groce but was continued until Monday when Groce allowed his conditional release.
He was released on $10,000 personal surety with conditions which include prohibitions on online communications with persons younger than 18-years-of age, unsupervised contact with persons younger than 18 and possession of “a firearm, destructive device, or other dangerous weapon.” In addition, Paul must report, by telephone, to the court twice each week.
Paul will return to court, digitally or in person, on June 16 for a pre-trial hearing.
The law provides that, if convicted, Paul could face “state prison not more than 5 years; of house of correction not more than 2 1/2 years; or both imprisonment and not more than $5000 fine.” In addition, if convicted, Paul would be required to register as a sex offender.