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James Marzilli sentenced to 3 months in jail

James Marzilli sentenced to 3 months in jail
By Laurel J. Sweet  |   Tuesday, February 22, 2011  |  |  Local Coverage

Photo by Nancy Lane

LOWELL — Condemning his creepy behavior as “repulsive” and “potentially dangerous,” a judge today sentenced former state Sen. Joseph “Jim” Marzilli to three months in the Billerica House of Correction for the grandfather’s 2008 sex-crazed spree in Lowell, when he accosted four women in one day while on official business.

“I think he’s an ill man, I really, really do. I believe the behavior that was exhibited that day was due to mental illness. You don’t live your life for 50 years with no issues and have this come out of nowhere,” Marzilli’s attorney, Terrence Kennedy, said after the sentencing in Lowell Superior Court.

One of Marzilli’s victims was handicapped.

Former state Sen. George Bachrach, a longtime friend of Marzilli’s who came to court to support the legislator, said, “Jim Marzilli made a mistake. He’s going to pay for it. Clearly, he became unglued. How else do you explain what happened?”

Kennedy predicted the Arlington Democrat, who is being treated for bipolar disorder and anxiety, will serve less than 55 days of the punishment superior court Judge Paul Chernoff handed down after Marzilli pleaded guilty to the accosting charges, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

With his wife looking on in tears, Marzilli also admitted there were sufficient facts for a jury to find him guilty of the felony charge of attempted indecent assault and battery for reaching for the crotch of a nurse’s assistant waiting on a bench for a patient.

That charge threatened up to five years in state prison, but because Chernoff continued it without a finding for one year — rather than declare Marzilli guilty, as assistant Middlesex District Attorney Elizabeth Dunigan pushed for — the disgraced pol will not have to register as a sex offender.

He is, however, on probation for five years effective immediately. Upon his release from jail, Chernoff ordered that Marzilli’s first year of release be spent on a GPS bracelet subject to exclusionary zones to be determined by prosecutors. He must also perform 200 hours of community service.

Unable to secure work for the past three years — “Look him up on the Internet. That’s the end of it,” Kennedy said of his employment possibilities — Marzilli has been doing volunteer work with at-risk Somali children and botanical gardening.

On Kennedy’s advice, Marzilli elected not to address Chernoff. Had he, Kennedy said, “I think he would have apologized — to everybody.”

None of the victims came to court, either, though Chernoff stressed each “should be recognized for courageously coming forward.” Authorities said Marzilli said to one victim: “The sex is sweet, the sex is sweet, you want it and you want to go with me.”

In the city on June 3, 2008, for a function at Federal Fabrics-Fibers, Marzilli approached the women both on foot and in a car over the course of four hours, making lewd remarks about their bodies. They, in return, called him a pervert and told him to spend $20 on a hooker.

Dunigan told Chernoff some of the women are now afraid to go to downtown Lowell.

Dunigan said one victim remarked to her of Marzilli, “He makes the law and then he breaks them.”

“At the time of his arrest, he was focused on himself, his career, his future,” Dunigan said. “Maybe in time it can be a little bit about what these women lost on the streets of Lowell.”

Marzilli’s commitment to public service began in 1976, when he served as a legislative aide while a student at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

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