A Northeastern student was recently charged with various Massachusetts Crimes of Violence against two women in Boston in separate incidents.
The student, who is from Medford, was charged in Roxbury District Court last week with Assault with Intent to Rape, Armed Robbery, and Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon. In this incident, the student is alleged to have jumped out of bushes and attacked a woman, threatening to rape her while trying to remove her clothes. The woman reportedly suffered wounds to her hand and her leg and reported that the student used a knife in this attack.
In another incident occurred later that same evening, the student allegedly knocked another woman over and tried to rape her. He was charged in connection with that incident in West Roxbury District Court with Assault with Intent to Rape.
Although these attacks are technically 'separate' incidents, the prosecutor may seek to "join" the offenses and try them together as one single scheme.
Generally speaking, evidence of a separate crime cannot be introduced at a defendant's trial for another crime in order to show a propensity for criminal conduct, but there are some exceptions. Smart prosecutors may seek to join the two incidents by asserting to the court that they are related by way of common scheme or pattern, and it would be in the interests of judicial economy to have the two matters tried at one trial.
Among the factors a judge would consider for joinder of the offenders would be the similarity of the alleged conduct, i.e., common scheme or pattern; and whether the same witnesses would be testifying at both trials.
Although allegations of random sexual attacks often turn on the sufficiency of the identification of the alleged perpetrator, in each of these cases, the police reportedly had video surveillance footage of the student at or near the alleged incidents.
Not having scene the surveillance video or still images, any competent defense attorney would certainly want to thoroughly review the integrity of the images and determine if there are then any challenges to the defendant's identification.
Assault with Intent to Rape in Massachusetts is punishable by imprisonment to state prison for life or for any term of years. A conviction would further subject the defendant to other collateral consequences, including mandatory Sex Offender Registration.