Arrest made in North End Sexual Assault Case- Identification Questionable

After last year’s string of sexual assaults in the north end, women living in Boston’s historic Italian neighborhood had a reason to become weary again last month. A woman was attacked around 1 am when entering the foyer of her Unity Street home. The attacker pushed the woman into her foyer, indecently assaulted her, and took a picture up her skirt with his cellphone before fleeing.

On Monday night, the victim contacted police after she spotted the man she believe attacked her last month. He was playing basketball in the North End. Ross Currier, 26, was arrested that evening, and arraigned in court the following day. Police Superintendent Robert Merner praised the woman for coming forward and being proactive in the search for her attacker, stating “We think it’s tremendous that the woman [responded] the way she did.

In my opinion, residents of the north end should not completely feel comfortable that the perpetrator of the sexual assault in their neighborhood last month has been caught. There are some real issues with the identification of Mr. Currier as the attacker.

First, he is the second man that the victim has identified as her attacker from last month. Just 13 days after her attack, she fingered a man from a photo array as her attacker. But police later determined that she was wrong, since the man she accused was incarcerated at the time she was attacked.

Second, when questioned by police, Mr. Ross’s fiancee did not hesitate to provide an alibi for him- they were together, in their apartment, all night when the victim was attacked.

Third, eyewitness identification is inherently unreliable. It is difficult enough for a person to identify a stranger based on a brief, 15- 30 second interaction. That identification becomes even less reliable when the only witness making that identification is the victim who was undoubtedly frightened for her life, fighting, scratching, looking around for help, with little if any time to get a good look at the facial characteristics of her attacker.

In the absence of other evidence to identify Mr. Ross as her attacker, the Commonwealth’s case against him looks very weak at this point. And based on the fact that he was released on a GPS monitoring bracelet, but no bail was set, it appears that the judge at Boston Municipal Court had similar reservations at Tuesday’s arraignment.

If you have been charged with indecent assault and battery, or any other criminal offense in Massachusetts, contact Urbelis Law at (617) 830- 2188. Initial Consultation is free.