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November 13, 2002

Suspect charged in rape of 3d girl

From: Boston Globe, MA
Nov. 13, 2002

Attack heightens fear in Somerville

By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff, 11/13/2002

SOMERVILLE - Just two weeks after the alleged rape of two deaf girls, one of them disabled, by reputed members of a local Salvadoran gang, a 10-year-old deaf girl from the same neighborhood was raped on Saturday night, according to Middlesex prosecutors.

Jesus Arbaiza, a 21-year-old Salvadoran man, was arraigned yesterday in Somerville District Court on charges of rape and kidnap of a girl from his neighborhood.

Prosecutors said the two cases appear to be unrelated and said they have no evidence that Arbaiza is a member of a gang.

Still, this latest attack - which occurred just blocks from Foss Park where six young men allegedly raped the two other girls - has spread more fear of violence against children across East Somerville.

''It's just unconscionable for a ... girl to be raped,'' said Somerville Mayor Dorothy Kelly Gay. ''I've lived in Somerville for 34 years and I never remember being afraid to walk the streets. I want that for other people.''

Arbaiza appeared yesterday before Judge Paul P. Heffernan - the same judge who presided over the arraignment of those accused of the Foss Park attacks - and was ordered held on $10,000 bail. Prosecutors did not release details yesterday about the events leading up to Arbaiza's arrest, and police reports related to the case were impounded.

Arbaiza's defense lawyer, Michael Brennan, said his client told him the girl arrived on his doorstep Saturday night and tried to enter his apartment, but he told her she should leave. Around 9:30, the girl's relatives called police to report her missing, Brennan said.

The girl later told police that she was being sexually assaulted inside Arbaiza's apartment at that time and that she saw her mother through the window searching for her with a police officer, according to Brennan. The girl also said that when she saw her mother, Arbaiza threatened to kill her if she screamed and clamped a hand over her mouth, according to Brennan, who has reviewed the police reports.

''She claims ... he said, `If you call out to your mother, I'll kill you,''' Brennan said. ''But she does not speak Spanish, and has to be translated through a [sign language] interpreter. ... I think there's a lot more to the story than what we are able to piece together.''

Both Seth Horwitz, a spokesman for the Middlesex district attorney's office, and Brennan said yesterday they were not aware of any connection between MS-13, the Salvadoran gang whose members are charged in the Foss Park rapes, and Arbaiza, a legal US resident with no criminal record who worked until recently at a Cambridge bakery.

At Arbaiza's first-floor apartment on Franklin Street yesterday, an American flag that read ''God bless our America'' in Spanish hung on the door, next to a list of names of the apartment's seven occupants.

Word of the alleged assault on yet another child spread outrage yesterday across a city that is still in shock from the Foss Park assaults, in which a 14-year-old and 17-year-old girl were allegedly attacked as they left a Dunkin' Donuts. One of the girls has cerebral palsy and was allegedly pulled from her wheelchair and thrown on a park bench.

Last Thursday, some 250 worried Somerville residents gathered for a community meeting and listened as the mayor, Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley, and other law enforcement officials tried to allay their fears.

In that meeting, Coakley told residents that the problem of gangs was much worse in other cities than in Somerville, and law enforcement officials reminded residents that suspected gang members can only be arrested if they commit a crime.

''I know there are people in East Somerville who are afraid to walk the streets,'' Kelly Gay said yesterday, but added: ''Somerville has always been a safe city, and I would say it's still a safe city.''

Cindy Rodriguez of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 11/13/2002.

© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.