Deval Patrick Pushed Out Officials Who Wanted To Put His Ex-Brother-In-Law On Sex Offender Registry

Written by Dana Sanchez
Deval Patrick
Deval Patrick once fired the head of the Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board for questioning why Patrick’s brother-in-law wasn’t required to register for a rape conviction. The former governor greets people on April 2, 2018, in Boston on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

In 2014, then-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick fired the head of the state’s Sex Offender Registry Board, partly because she questioned why Patrick’s brother-in-law wasn’t required to register for a 1993 spousal rape conviction.

Bernard Sigh, now the ex-brother-in-law of Patrick, had just one rape conviction at the time. The first rape conviction occurred in 1993. In June 2019, Sigh was sentenced and convicted again for rape in connection with a 2017 attack. In both cases, the victim was Rhonda Sigh, Patrick’s sister.

Sigh was sentenced this year to up to eight years in prison for kidnapping and raping his estranged wife. The victim said she was “terrified” at the prospect of Sigh’s release. Prosecutors asked for 17-to-22 years. Judge Robert C. Cosgrove, citing Sigh’s Parkinson’s disease, gave him a lighter sentence.

“Essentially, the core of this case is a marital rape,” Cosgrove said, noting that it wasn’t recognized as a crime until some 40 years ago, when Massachusetts became one of the first states to require consent, regardless of marital status, to be freely given, Boston Herald reported.

Even before Patrick declared his intention to run for president in 2020, the case shone a spotlight on him. Patrick has been accused of retaliating against state employees who wanted to have Sigh register as a sex offender.

At the time, Patrick argued that state officials had acted inappropriately when they sought to overturn a hearing officer’s decision not to place his brother-in-law on the registry. He acknowledged that he had inserted himself into the case instead of recusing himself, according to the Washington Post.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Patrick defended his action in the case of his brother-in-law, saying he acted as governor to hold a public official accountable.

“Bernie Sigh’s impact on my family has been complex and painful for all of us,” Patrick said. “I love my sister and her children, and believe their chance to heal is best if left out of the public eye. But because of issues raised in a lawsuit filed against me as Governor, her experience is now part of the public record and it is important that the facts are clear.”

The first rape conviction happened when the Sighs were married. Sigh pleaded guilty to spousal rape and served four months in a California prison with five years of probation. The couple reconciled and moved to Massachusetts.

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The case was not widely known until Patrick ran for governor. Patrick blamed the Republican Party for pushing the story about his brother-in-law and sister, which he said “nearly destroyed their lives.” He said the release of the information was an invasion of privacy and that even his sister’s children were unaware of the conviction.

A hearing officer of the Sex Offenders Registry Board determined Sigh did not have to put his name on the registry. Other board officials tried unsuccessfully to overturn the hearing officer’s decision.

In September 2014, Patrick pushed out two of the officials who tried to put his brother-in-law on the registry seven years earlier, according to the Washington Post.