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Woman who was raped, allegedly by IRS agent, gives dramatic, tearful testimony

Judge Mitchell Kaplan addressed the jury before opening statements were made Thursday in the Suffolk Superior Court trial of IRS agent James Clarke. He is accused in the rape of a summer intern in his car in July 2017.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

A former intern with the Internal Revenue Service told a Suffolk Superior Court jury Friday that a special agent grew angry and demanding as he lured her to his car and raped her at gunpoint, after they spent more than five hours drinking at a Boston bar.

“His tone changed,” the woman, now 23, testified from the witness stand, wiping tears from her eyes. “It didn’t sound like he was asking, it sounded like he was demanding, ‘I will take you to South Station.’ ”

The woman said that in the car, parked at the Government Center Garage, agent James Clarke handcuffed her, put a gun in her mouth, and digitally penetrated her, calling her slurs while she could do nothing but cry.


“I was in complete shock, and I had no idea what had just happened to me,” the woman said, choking up, in her first public account of the July 2017 incident.

Clarke, 45, is charged with aggravated rape, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and indecent assault and battery. He was assigned at the time of the alleged rape to the IRS’s criminal investigations office in Boston, and remained on the job until sometime after he was indicted in March 2018.

His attorney, Robert Sheketoff, argued during opening statements in the case Thursday that the sexual relations between Clarke and the women were consensual.

Sheketoff sought to show during questioning of the woman — who was working as an IRS intern that summer — that she knew Clarke had been flirting with her, and texted a friend that belief, but that she never felt the need to leave or complain. He also questioned the woman’s account of getting into the car and having the gun pointed at her, before Clarke drove her to South Station, saying she had been texting friends and family at the time.


“You did this while your rapist was driving you to South Station?” he asked in pointed questioning that brought the woman to tears, and forced her to ask Judge Mitchell Kaplan for a brief break. The judge obliged.

The woman, who at different times was poised and sobbing, is slated to return to the witness stand Monday. The Globe does not identify victims of sexual assault without their consent.

The woman, who was from the South Shore, and now works as a data analyst in South Boston, told jurors that she had barely known Clarke in the first weeks after she joined the IRS. She was assigned to a team that included him and two other agents.

“It was strictly just work. I didn’t really interact with him too often,” she said.

In early July, she said, Clarke gave her $20 for her trip with friends to a casino in Connecticut to celebrate her 21st birthday. In late July 2017, on her last day, he offered to take her out to celebrate. The woman said she was surprised when no other co-workers joined them, though Sheketoff argued that she knew it would be the two of them all along.

She said they arrived at the Kinsale pub, across from IRS offices at the JFK Building downtown, just before 4 p.m. She ordered a mai tai, followed by four other cocktails he had suggested. He drank five beers.


At one point, she testified, he put his hand on her thigh. She shuffled her chair back, finding the gesture innocent but awkward.

By her third and fourth drink, the woman said she started to realize she was wobbly, couldn’t walk straight, was off balance. She texted family members and friends garbled messages telling them where she was, that she was getting intoxicated. Sheketoff argued that she also texted friends acknowledging Clarke was flirting with her; she pointed out in the messages he had a wife and three children, he said.

“I remember thinking I wished I had not drank so much, because I believed I was the only one who was drunk,” the woman said.

They left the bar just before 9 p.m., and the woman said she twice told Clarke she would take public transportation, before, on the third request, he seemed to demand to bring her to South Station.

In the car, she testified, he handcuffed her — what she thought at first was a practical joke. She complained that they were too tight. That’s when, the woman said, he raped her at gunpoint.

When they were closer to South Station, she said, he grabbed her head and briefly assaulted her again. She never said no, she told prosecutors, because she was too scared. She cried throughout the attack, she told jurors.

At one point she started recording a voice memo in the car, just before Clarke dropped her off at South Station.


In the recording, which she provided to police, Clarke could be heard calling her slurs and asking where his gun is. “Can I slap you?” he asks. The woman says yes, and engages him in the discussion.

“I was saying things that in my mind wouldn’t upset him anymore,” she said.

Moments later, as she got out of her car at South Station, the woman could be heard sobbing loudly. Surveillance footage from the area shows her struggling to walk, her knees buckling, crying, as she is on her phone calling a friend.

She then called 911.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at milton.valencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia and on Instagram @miltonvalencia617. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.