Massachusetts Appeals Court Upholds Conviction for Defendant who Raped Prostitute in Burlington

The Massachusetts Appeals Court today affirmed a man’s conviction for raping a prostitute in a Burlington hotel in January of 2009.  The name of the case is Commonwealth v. Prado

The defendant was accused of arranging meetings with prostitutes he found on Craigslist and then robbing them in hotels in Burlington and Tewksbury.  With respect to the Burlington incident, the defendant pointed a gun at the victim and ordered her to turn over the contents of her purse.  The defendant then touched the victim’s breast and, while continuing to point the gun at her, ordered her to insert her fingers into her vagina.  The victim did as she was told, against her will.  At trial, the Commonwealth introduced surveillance video and statements made by the defendant to the police to corroborate the victim’s testimony.  The police also obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s apartment, where the victim’s stolen property was discovered.  The defendant went to trial in Middlesex Superior Court and was found guilty of multiple counts of armed robbery, intimidation of a witness, and aggravated rape.  He was sentenced to serve between 9 and 12 years in state prison.

The defendant filed a motion for a new trial, arguing the elements of aggravated rape had not been established when he forced the victim to penetrate her vagina with her own fingers.  Compelled self-penetration, according to the defendant, is not criminal under Massachusetts law.  The Appeals Court concluded the Massachusetts rape statute is broad enough to allow for the conviction of a defendant who forces a victim to penetrate herself.  “Unnatural sexual intercourse” is defined as oral and anal sex and other intrusions of a part of person’s body, or an object, into the genital or anal opening of another person.  Applying the law to the facts of this case, the Appeals Court concluded the defendant’s conduct constituted an equally-serious invasion of personal integrity as common-law rape.  The Appeals Court also rejected the defendant’s argument that he could not be convicted of rape because there was no physical contact between him and the victim.  The Court said the illegal contact here involved the intrusive, offensive, and forced physical contact of the victim’s fingers going into her vagina under the defendant’s threat of deadly force.  Additionally, there have been many cases in Massachusetts where defendants have been convicted of rape even when they did not personally touch the victims.  For example, a defendant has previously been convicted of rape for compelling a third party to commit a sexual assault.  Another defendant has been convicted of rape for forcing a victim to perform oral sex on two consenting females.  If the defendant is responsible for forcing the unwanted sexual contact, he may be convicted of rape even if he does not perform the physical act himself.

After the defendant completes his prison sentence, he will be on probation for 20 years and will be required to register as a sex offender.  The Commonwealth will also have the option of seeking to indefinitely commit the defendant to the Massachusetts Sex Offender Treatment Center.