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November 14, 2002

DA probing gang links to second rape

From: Somerville Journal, MA
Nov. 14, 2002

Thursday, November 14, 2002

A 10-year-old hearing-impaired girl was allegedly raped by an El Salvadorian native in East Somerville on Saturday, police said, only weeks after members of a Salvadorian gang allegedly raped two deaf teens in Foss Park.

The Middlesex District Attorney said that the office had not determined whether 21-year-old Jesus Arbaiza, who is charged with the rape, is a member of the MS-13 gang. Arbaiza's possible ties to the gang are still being investigated, Middlesex District Attorney spokesman Seth Horowitz said. But Somerville Lt. Frank Kelley said Arbaiza is not a known member of MS-13.

The crime comes in the wake of several violent incidents involving MS-13 in East Somerville, culminating in the brutal gang rape on Oct. 24 of two deaf girls, one of whom has cerebral palsy. Authorities charged three gang members, two from Somerville, with the rape. They are still looking for three other suspects, Horowitz said.

According to prosecutors, Arbaiza allegedly approached the 10-year-old after she walked a friend home, grabbed her and put his hand over her mouth. Arbaiza allegedly slapped the victim, who was just shy of her 11th birthday, forced the girl inside his 41 Franklin St. apartment and raped her. The 21-year-old threatened to hurt the girl if she told her mother or police, prosecutors said.

"He grabbed her by the arm, covered her mouth and picked her up," said the girl's mother, who asked not to be identified.

The victim's mother called police to report the 10-year-old missing at 10:44 p.m., Somerville police said. According to prosecutors, the girl saw police and her mother searching for her through a window while she was being raped. The Horace-Mann School fifth-grader attempted to call out, but Arbaiza threatened her, prosecutors said.

According to the victim's mother, it was only when Arbaiza left the apartment that the girl could escape. By that time, the mother and police had been looking for the victim and were talking inside the girl's home.

"While they were here, she came running in. My daughter was hysterical and shaking," said her mother. She added that neighbors told her Arbaiza is a member of MS-13.

Arbaiza stood, wearing a buttoned-up plaid shirt and jeans with his head down, listening to a Spanish-speaking interpreter while the charges were read at his arraignment Tuesday in Somerville District Court. Arbaiza's sister and brother-in-law were in the courtroom. Arbaiza's brother-in-law, who did not want his name used, said that Arbaiza was a "good guy."

Arbaiza, who was held on $10,000 bail, has no prior record and was hanging out with friends at the time of the rape, defense lawyer Michael Brennan argued. Brennan also questioned how the girl could understand Arbaiza's threats without a sign-language interpreter.

The crime has added fire to the fear of violence in East Somerville. Arbaiza's neighbor Warren Quinn told the Journal he has been calling all summer about groups of teens doing and selling drugs from the building that Arbaiza lives in.

Mayor Kelly Gay has promised increased patrols and better lighting at Foss Park and provided residents with gang hotline to combat the growing gang-related violence.

Arbaiza is due for a probable hearing cause on Dec. 2, Horowitz said.

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