Man gets 29-39 years in kidnapping, rape of former North Shore woman

·4 min read

Aug. 2—BOSTON — A Charlestown man was sentenced Monday to 29 to 39 years in state prison for the 2019 kidnapping and rape of a former North Shore woman outside a Boston bar.

Victor Pena, 42, was found guilty last week of 10 counts of aggravated rape and a kidnapping charge following a week-long trial in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston.

It took a jury less than two hours on July 26 to reject Pena's lawyer's claim that he was suffering from a mental health issue that rendered him unable to understand or control his behavior.

Judge Anthony Campo cited the strength of the case and the deep impact of the crime on the victim in imposing the sentence, according to reporters who were in court.

Prosecutors had requested up to 60 years in prison for Pena, saying they believe he is still dangerous.

The victim was 23 at the time, and had recently moved from the North Shore to Boston. On the night she was kidnapped, she had been on a "girls night out" at Hennessey's on the night of Feb. 19, 2019. Pena was caught on video approaching the young woman, whose identity is being withheld because she is a victim of sexual assault, outside the bar after she'd gotten separated from her friends.

In a written victim-impact statement submitted to the court on Monday, the young woman said that the crimes "completely turned my world upside down."

"I should have spent my 20s laughing, meeting new people, celebrating," she wrote. "Instead, I spent (them) in court rooms, testifying, waiting, dreading. In the years since my trauma, I felt like I was constantly being followed by a dark shadow — reminding me of the horrors I went through, as well as making sure everything else was to fall apart alongside it. After 3 1/2 years, I wasn't sure if this nightmare would ever end. At every update, there seemed to be another disruption or delay, making me feel trapped, as if I never truly escaped at all."

Investigators and family members searched for the woman for three days, eventually piecing together video and other forensic evidence that led them to a squalid public housing apartment in Charlestown, where Pena had installed an illegal deadbolt lock on his apartment door.

The victim said she feared she would die if she did not comply with his demands or tried to escape.

The trial, which had been delayed multiple times, went forward largely with Pena outside the courtroom after he became disruptive during jury selection; while seated in a holding area to watch the trial remotely, he then allegedly engaged in lewd behavior.

But in a last-minute development — after his lawyer had already indicated he would rest his case — Pena decided to take the stand in his own defense last Monday, where he tried to convince jurors that what happened was consensual.

The crimes have left the young woman in fear of things that were once routine — hypervigilant and angry over what Pena has robbed from her.

"I get angry thinking about where I could have been by now, where I could have lived, who I could have met," she wrote. "I am angry that this trial has been postponed multiple times and now is only nearing the conclusion 3 1/2 years later. This is a horrifying chapter that I've wanted to close from the second that it started and I can't. I'm angry that I had to put the pieces of my life back together and I'm angry that they don't fit back the same way as they used to."

Following the verdict last week, Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden praised prosecutors Ian Polumbaum and Jessica Frattaroli for their work on the case.

"But it was the survivor in this case who truly rose to the challenge," Hayden said. "Most of us go through life never having to experience an ordeal of terror like this young woman experienced at the hands of Victor Pena. When the path to justice required her to recount those awful moments, she proved equal to the task."

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, jmanganis@gloucestertimes.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, jmanganis@gloucestertimes.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, jmanganis@gloucestertimes.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.