The 20-year-old Dorchester man charged with raping an 18-year-old woman Monday on a Steamship Authority ferry from Martha’s Vineyard committed the alleged assault in a delivery truck aboard the vessel, and he’s also been living in the US illegally since 2019, authorities said.
Tara Miltimore, a spokeswoman for Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe’s office, provided information about the alleged rape in a brief statement.
“On June 7th, 2021 Falmouth Police, Edgartown Police and Massachusetts State Police detectives were notified of an alleged sexual assault that occurred on the Steamship Authority ferry while travelling from Martha’s Vineyard to Woods Hole,” the statement said. “The alleged incident occurred in a delivery truck.”
The suspect, Bruno Sanches De Jesus, was arrested after exiting the ferry. State Police have said previously that De Jesus left the Woods Hole dock as a passenger in a commercial box truck, which was stopped on Route 28 north in Falmouth, where he was arrested on two counts of rape.
Miltimore had said Tuesday that “there does not appear to be any prior relationship between the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim.”
Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, which provides support services to sexual assault survivors, said Wednesday that attacks against strangers don’t make up a majority of the cases her group sees, though they do happen.
“Reporting an incident of sexual assault is never easy regardless of the circumstances under which it took place,” Scaramella said in a statement. “Sexual assault committed by someone who is a stranger to the person who is assaulted make up about 20 percent of all sexual assaults nationally. But locally, at BARCC, they make up about seven percent of the acute cases for which we provide accompaniment to the hospital for a forensic rape exam.”
Sanches De Jesus was arraigned Tuesday in Falmouth District Court, where a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf and he was ordered held on $25,000 cash bail.
His court-appointed lawyer told NBC-10 Boston that De Jesus denies the charges and that footage from his cell phone could exonerate him. The attorney didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Also Wednesday, Barnstable County Sheriff James M. Cummings said via email that De Jesus had entered the US on “a visa waiver and never left,” remaining in the country illegally since 2019.
Court papers indicate that De Jesus is a native of Cape Verde.
“As a result of the Barnstable County Sheriffs Office being a part of the ICE 287g program for Jails this information was put together quickly resulting in an Immigration Detainer being lodged today,” Cummings wrote. “Without this Detainer this individual could have come up with the $25,000 bail and released back into the community. The 287g Program keeps our Community safe.”
According the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement website, the program requires “officers to maintain comprehensive alien arrest, detention, and removal data in order to ensure enforcement efforts remain focused on criminal aliens, particularly those who pose the greatest risk to public safety.”
Court records listed De Jesus’s employer as KAM Appliances.
Sarah Richardson, a spokeswoman for the company, said Tuesday that De Jesus was working for a subcontractor. Richardson said via e-mail that “everyone at KAM is absolutely heartbroken about this.”
“KAM has had a relationship with this company for over five years and we have always had positive experiences with their workers,” Richardson said. “Everyone here at KAM is shocked and appalled” by the allegations.”
The company is “exceptionally sorry for what happened to the victim,” and cooperating with State Police investigators, Richardson added.
The Steamship Authority has referred questions to law enforcement and declined to comment Wednesday.
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.