Wilmington Man — A Former MBTA Police Officer — Charged With Rape While On Duty

Below is a press release from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office:

BOSTON, MA — A former Transit Police officer was arraigned Thursday on rape charges, after a unique Suffolk Superior Court grand jury was reconvened this week to finish a series of cases they had been hearing prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins announced.

Among the 99 indictments returned so far against 28 defendants are three that charge Shawn McCarthy, 46, of Wilmington with sexually assaulting two women in July 2012 while working as an armed, uniformed MBTA police officer.

McCarthy appeared for booking at MBTA police headquarters in Boston and was arraigned remotely by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Michael D. Ricciuti.  He was released on the conditions that he have no contact with the victims or other witnesses and obtain permission to travel outside Massachusetts, as requested by Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum, chief of District Attorney Rollins’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit.

The Commonwealth alleges that the victims, then in their early 20s, were drinking in Boston when they encountered McCarthy outside the Aquarium subway station.  Against the advice of a fellow officer, McCarthy offered the women a joyride in his marked police cruiser and drove them around the area with blue lights flashing.  After stopping in a vacant lot so the women could relieve themselves, McCarthy said he hadn’t risked his job for nothing and he would not take them back downtown until he got something out of it.  The women stated that they feared getting in trouble and had no choice but to submit as McCarthy subjected them to sexual acts.  Specifically, he penetrated one victim’s vagina with his fingers and his penis as she stood against the parked cruiser; and inserted his fingers into the second victim’s vagina as she sat in the backseat of the vehicle.  He then drove them back to the area where they had met and warned them not to tell anyone about the episode.

One of the victims disclosed the assault soon afterward to a male relative.  In August 2019 she had to divulge it again while answering required questions as a candidate for a law-enforcement job in another community.  Up to that point both victims had believed the perpetrator worked for the Boston Police Department.  The matter was initially referred to BPD and further investigation identified the assailant as a Transit Police officer. A grand jury investigation with the MBTA police followed.  McCarthy admitted that he had two women in the cruiser on the night in question but denied any wrongdoing.  He was placed on administrative leave in December 2019 and resigned soon afterward.

“It takes great courage for survivors in a case like this to come forward,” District Attorney Rollins said. “Members of law enforcement are held to a higher standard of conduct because the public’s trust in them is vital. Victims turn to police in the aftermath of a crime and police turn the community to help solve crime. When a member of any law enforcement agency commits such a horrendous act, it erodes the community’s confidence in law enforcement as a whole. When law enforcement asks for the community’s help in solving crime, we and the police must be trusted. My office intends to hold this individual accountable as part of our efforts to rebuild the community’s trust in this noble profession.”

“I would like to thank the Transit Police Department, and especially Superintendent Richard Sullivan, for leading this investigation with integrity and diligence, and for the compassion they showed to the victims of these crimes,” District Attorney Rollins said.

The indictments against McCarthy were returned Monday, May 18, 2020 by members of the grand jury who were reconvened this week after their service to the Commonwealth was interrupted by the closure of Massachusetts courts amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Last month, District Attorney Rollins wrote to Chief Justice Judith Fabricant of the Superior Court requesting that the court allow an emergency convening of the grand jury to continue hearing cases under strict social distancing protocols.  Acting at District Attorney Rollins’ request, Chief Justice Fabricant permitted the Suffolk County grand jury to return to service during the week of May 18, 2020.  In each of the serious felony cases involved, Suffolk County prosecutors had already begun presenting evidence to the panel in the weeks and months prior to the declaration of a State of Emergency on March 10, 2020.

The District Attorney’s office and the court are using social distancing measures, technology and other precautions to ensure that all participants in the process remain safe and healthy. Suffolk County is the only district in Massachusetts and one of only a handful of jurisdictions in the country where grand jurors are currently hearing felony cases for indictment.

Sexual assault can happen to anyone. While the victims of any crime are asked to call 911 in an emergency, survivors of sexual violence can also call their local rape crisis center for free and confidential services and to discuss their options. Support is available for all survivors of sexual violence, regardless of whether they wish to take part in a criminal prosecution. Services by city and town can be found at www.janedoe.org/find_help/search.

In Suffolk County, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center offers a free and confidential 24-hour hotline at 800-841-8371. The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center provides medical accompaniment and many other free services to victims of rape and sexual assault. Suffolk victim-witness advocates can assist in referrals to BARCC and a wide array of non-profit service providers who can offer additional support and services.

Anne Kelley-McCarthy is the DA’s Victim-Witness Advocate assigned to the case.  McCarthy is represented by Attorney Terrence Kennedy.  The case returns to court August 10, 2020.

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