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Man accused of kidnapping and raping woman subjected victim to ‘three days of hell,’ prosecutor says

On Monday, a prosecutor told jurors during the opening statements at Victor Peña's trial that he subjected his victim to "three days of hell." Peña is accused of abducting a woman in January 2019, after she left a bar in downtown Boston, and repeatedly raped her in his apartment over multiple days.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

Victor Peña, the man accused of abducting a woman after she left a downtown Boston bar in January 2019 and repeatedly raping her in his apartment over multiple days, subjected his victim to “three days of hell” before she was rescued, a prosecutor told jurors during opening statements at Peña’s trial Monday.

“A night out with her twin sister and some friends turned into almost three days of hell, three days of fear, three days of isolation,” Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum said in Suffolk Superior Court, where Peña, 42, is standing trial on charges of kidnapping and 10 counts of aggravated rape. He has pleaded not guilty.

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Peña, who repeatedly spoken out of turn and acted out during jury selection, was not in the courtroom on Monday. Judge Anthony Campo told jurors that Peña had “elected to be in a separate room here in the building” with an audiovisual feed and a Spanish interpreter.

In his statement to jurors, Polumbaum said the 23-year-old woman was so intoxicated after leaving the bar in the midst of a snowstorm that when Peña encountered her, she “was literally swaying in the wind as she tried to walk.”

Peña led and at times carried the victim down the street to an MBTA station and his apartment in Charlestown, Polumbaum said. Over the next three days, a “regrettable blur” turned into “an indelible nightmare.”

Lorenzo Perez, a lawyer for Peña, told jurors the case will hinge on “bizarre” behavior by Pena that will call his intent and state of mind into question. Legal filings indicate Perez intends to pursue a defense of “lack of criminal responsibility because of mental disease or defect.”

Peña sucked his thumb on the subway platform on the night he encountered the woman and engaged in rambling speech and illogical rants, telling the victim how delighted he was to save her and that he wanted to have a family with her, Perez said.

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“He lived behind a door of double locks and concerns,” Perez said, asking jurors to remain fair and open-minded.

Earlier this month, Campo ruled that Peña was competent to stand trial after a three-day hearing on his mental health status. Peña interrupted and delayed that hearing with loud outbursts in Spanish that could be heard from outside the courtroom.

Campo ruled after hearing testimony from a doctor who evaluated Peña after a seven-day stay at Bridgewater State Hospital. Campo impounded the doctor’s report.

Before the hearing was closed to the media and public, Polumbaum told Campo the report contained more than sufficient evidence to find Peña competent.

He has been held without bail since his arrest in January 2019. The kidnapping charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison; each rape charge is punishable by up to 30 years.

After the woman disappeared after leaving Hennessy’s bar on Jan. 19, 2019, an intense search began. Police first saw Peña on surveillance video following the woman as she walked down Congress Street and then, at times, carrying her on Washington Street. He then escorted her onto the Orange Line and walked her to his apartment in Charlestown.

The woman woke up the next morning with no memory of what had happened, according to prosecutors. There was a deadbolt on the inside of the door that required a key.

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When police burst into Peña’s apartment, they found the woman sobbing and horrified. Pena stood in the kitchen, ready to fight, according to police. Three officers rushed him and wrestled him into handcuffs while four officers swept inside and ushered the woman out.

Peña derailed his last trial in September when he fired his lawyer after jurors were selected because the lawyer refused to defend the case by saying the victim was a prostitute, which was a baseless claim, according to court filings.

In interviews with the Globe, Peña’s older brother, Jose Peña, said Peña’s mental capacity was sharply reduced when he was about 7 after his family found him in his room suffering from a medical problem that had cut off oxygen to his brain.

In January, Peña sought his release to receive medical treatment for tumorous growths. But his bid included a “sole medical record, which was ‘self-created,’ ” Campo wrote in his denial.

Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.



Tonya Alanez can be reached at tonya.alanez@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @talanez.