NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Thousands of rape kits have gathered dust for years in Massachusetts, and in 2018 Bristol County launched a federally-funded push to inventory its backlog, test the kits, and track down suspects. Now, the cold case unit has handed down its first charges.
A grand jury has indicted Scott Trudeau of Worcester in an alleged rape and assault more than two decades ago in New Bedford. The reported victim in the case submitted evidence to a sexual assault team shortly after the violence in 2010, but the kit sat untested and the case went cold.
The Bristol County District Attorney's office laid out the alarming details of the alleged attack in a statement:
"On March 18 2010, a 23-year-old woman was walking along Coffin Avenue in the north end of New Bedford when she was violently attacked by two men. She was struck in the head and then dragged to a secluded area, where one of the men (this defendant) raped her while the other one held her down.
'She could not see or identify them because they were wearing hooded sweatshirts. She gave a description of them to the police and was taken to St Luke’s Hospital for treatment. While at the hospital, the victim submitted to a sex assault evidence collection kit (Rape Kit). That kit was one of more than 1,100 from Bristol County alone that was never fully tested by the state lab."
The D.A.'s office says, since receiving a federal grant to handle the backlog four years ago, they've been in the "painstaking process" of getting the rape kits fully tested by a private lab. Because of "numerous delays due to Covid-19 and other issues with the state lab," it took until April 2021 to send the first kits, but the D.A.'s office is optimistic about the pace from here.
"Although the testing got off to a slow start, we have been informed that all 1,148 previously untested rape kits will likely be fully tested by the private lab by the end of this year," the statement reads.
The DNA of 47 year-old Scott Trudeau came up as a hit this February. He was convicted on federal child exploitation charges in 2015 and is currently on probation. Trudeau is due back in court, facing aggravated rape and assault and battery charges, this upcoming Tuesday, May 10th.
The revelations about untested rape kits in Massachusetts erupted with the 2013 conviction of John Loflin, found guilty in the 2002 cold case murder of Marlene Rose, also in New Bedford. Loflin had been charged in connection with a rape in the city back in 1997, but the case was eventually dismissed and the rape kit that would have proven his guilt was never tested.
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