Lifestyle, News

The evil that is abuse: Survivors tell their stories to Gov. Baker

(Illustration/Edwin Peralta Jr.)

Parents of children who were sexually assaulted and survivors themselves gathered for a roundtable discussion with Gov. Charlie Baker this month to discuss their experiences and how it affected them, their families, and their communities. 

One of the adult survivors named Rob P. spoke about his experience being raped when he was 11 years old. 

Rob was approached by a stranger at the Lawrence public pool, who was saying that he lost his dog and would give Rob and his friend $10 if they would help him find it. 

Rob and his friend said they’d help, so the man took their names and addresses down so he could send them the money. 

“We were anxious to help, but thought it would be fun,” Rob said. 

The man then lured Rob and his friend to a wooded area some distance from the pool, where he made them undress and raped them one at a time. 

“It was awful watching my friend being raped and I was terrified knowing that I would be next,” Rob said. “I thought about running, but I was afraid the man would kill my friend.” 

The stranger eventually let them go and told them not to tell anyone, reminding the boys that he had their names and addresses.

“It was a terrifying experience and I always feared that he would come to my house and harm me and my family,” Rob said. 

This predator who raped Rob was convicted child rapist Wayne Chapman, who admitted to molesting more than 100 kids. He was also a suspect in the disappearance of two boys, one from the very pool Rob was lured from. 

A woman named Kate M. also shared her story about her three sons who were molested by Christopher Prew — a man who worked in the Marblehead school system and summer camps and was also a hockey coach who gave private lessons. 

In February 2018, Prew was charged with molesting all three of Kate’s boys and at least five others after he had embedded himself in the small town and built the trust of many families. 

Indicted by a grand jury in February 2018 and found to be dangerous in Salem Superior Court, Prew was still released by the court.

“The safety that they felt while he was held in custody was ripped from them,” Kate said. “He is accused of molesting over eight children and has been charged on various counts of indecent assault including rape in Essex County. He also faced additional charges in Middlesex and in Vermont… These boys were brave enough to come forward and share their truth.” 

Erin K. also spoke about her son being sexually assaulted and raped by Prew. 

At the time, Erin said her family was deep in grief as her husband had just committed suicide, so Prew took advantage of that and messaged her on Facebook to offer his condolences. 

She knew him from programs at her son’s school and entrusted him with more than 50 unsupervised outings and events. 

“We just assumed since he was involved with so many people in our town that everything was OK,” she said. “My son is my hero for telling me that day what happened to him. He saved so many. I’ll never forget as long as I live.”

Erin said she thinks daily about what Prew did to her family and testified at the State House twice to try to ensure that Prew doesn’t get set free. 

She installed security cameras around her house and had family stay with her to have more protection, as she received threats from his family telling her that “she better think long and hard about what she’s doing” and that she has “no idea what and who she is dealing with.” 

Carla P. spoke about two times she was raped, first by a stranger in Middlesex County and then 12 years later by an ex-boyfriend in Essex County.

“The Middlesex County stranger rape was very scary because it happened outside of a hotel. My sense of sanity is shattered. My life as I knew it was gone and it haunted me for years,” Carla said. 

That rapist was issued a low bail and was set free, so Carla wanted to drop the case out of fear of retribution, but she “felt a strong obligation to protect other women” so she pressed on.

Her rapist was found guilty, but was only given three years in jail. 

“It took me years of intensive therapy before I started to live a better life,” Carla said. “Although uneasy, I finally felt better about dating.” 

She met her ex-boyfriend who at first, was kind and fun to be with, but “was a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” as she did not know about his violent history, his long criminal record and his many years of drug abuse. 

She tried to end the relationship when she found out who he really was, but he kidnapped her and held her captive at his home overnight, asking her “how do you want to die?”

“He brutally beat me, burned me with cigarettes, and raped me repeatedly. He was high on drugs and it was terrifying,” Carla said. “He stole my cell phone and called my daughter and threatened to kill her and all of us. It was heartbreaking to know the fear that my daughter experienced. He knew targeting my daughter would be very hurtful to me.”

She said she was relieved when he was finally arrested, but her fear came back when the judge set a low bail and he was released. 

Her abuser ended up getting 12 years in prison, but he sued her for libel, defamation and false arrest and tried to vacate her restraining order. 

“As years went on, I suffered terribly from the neck and spinal injuries that he inflicted… I have a surgery scar on my neck that is a daily reminder of his violence, and the emotional trauma doesn’t heal either,” she said. “I’m glad he is a level three sex offender so women can see who he really is.” 

Another victim named Tara spoke of her abuse from a man named Kevin McCarthy. She met McCarthy on an online-dating site in October 2015 and met him for the first time in person shortly after. 

She found out months later that he was involved with and abusing two other women while they were dating. 

“When we started dating, he had another woman living with him that he told me was his children’s nanny,” Tara said. She didn’t find out until more than a year later that the “nanny” was his girlfriend who filed a restraining order against him and left him because she was being mentally, verbally, and physically abused by him. 

Around that time, McCarthy was also abusing Tara.  

“One of the really bad attacks was while I was driving. He punched me so hard, breaking the bone under my eye and forcing me to drive around for over an hour with my eye completely closed,” Tara said. “While I was too afraid for my life and not yet ready to come forward at that time, charges were filed relating to the third woman and there was a manhunt for him in July 2016.” 

McCarthy was eventually caught and sent to jail in August 2016 after being on the run for more than a month. He was sentenced to 90 days, but was out in 60 days. 

He got out of jail on Oct. 17, 2016 and ended up holding Tara captive in his home shortly after, when she said he violently physically abused her the entire weekend, telling her he was going to kill her, slapping her in the face, cutting her face with the ring on his hand, bashing her head into the door repeatedly, and strangling her.

“I was hit so hard I had two black eyes, my nose turned black, and my jaw was bruised,” she said. 

McCarthy had court two days later on Oct. 19 for the other case, and was put on a GPS bracelet and was ordered to be in a batterer’s program, Tara said, but he continued to abuse her. 

“In December, he held a knife to my throat during which my legs became weak and I fell to the floor, all while he continued to jab at my head,” Tara said, adding: “I thought I was going to die.” 

In March 2017, Tara said he had a trial for assault against the first woman and was sentenced to 90 days, but was out again in 60, so the abuse of her started again a month later when he came to her job and raped her. 

“I truly believed he was going to kill me,” Tara said. “This fear led me to take out a life-insurance policy because I thought that I was truly going to die at his hands.”

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