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NBA trainer, charged with rape and drugging a woman in downtown Boston, released on bond

Robert McClanaghan appeared in Boston Municipal Court on charges of rape and drugging for intercourse Tuesday, in Boston.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

A nationally known skills trainer for NBA players pleaded not guilty Tuesday to drugging and raping a woman who told police she awoke bruised and bleeding and had no memory beyond having one or two drinks and going to her hotel room with the man she had met online.

Robert McClanaghan, 43, was arrested Friday in Rhode Island on charges of rape and drugging for intercourse related to the Nov. 3 incident at the Canopy by Hilton in downtown Boston.

McClanaghan appeared in Boston Municipal Court Tuesday morning, wearing a light blue dress shirt, khaki pants, and a short graying ponytail, his wrists handcuffed in front of him. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.


Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Erin Murphy said police recovered surveillance video from the Rose Town Kitchen & Bar that shows McClanaghan sitting next to the woman as he reaches into his pocket and “appears to sprinkle something over the victim’s drink in a moment of distraction.”

“She remembers very little despite only having had one or two drinks,” Murphy said. “It was not normal for her to black out.”

McClanaghan later texted the woman a photo that showed a man involved in a sex act with a woman who was bound, face down, and wearing a collar. The woman recognized herself and McClanaghan, Murphy said.

“She could not recall the activities in the photo,” Murphy said. “She would not consent to such activities. She did not consent to such activities.”

McClanaghan stood during the brief hearing before Judge James Stanton, who ordered McClanaghan’s release on $30,000 bond. McClanaghan must wear a GPS monitoring bracelet, surrender his passport, and remain in Rhode Island, where he lives, pending the outcome of the case, except for meeting with his lawyer and to attend court dates in Boston. He was also ordered to stay away from the victim.


His defense lawyer Kelli Porges argued against the requirement for a GPS monitor during Tuesday’s hearing.

“He is not only innocent but his desire to exonerate himself . . . is what is going to assure he returns every time,” Porges said.

There are no toxicology reports to corroborate the victim’s accusations, Porges said.

“There is nothing to indicate that he raped this woman or drugged this woman,” Porges said.

McClanaghan and the woman met on an online dating app and then met in person in Providence on Nov. 2, the day before the sexual assault, according to a Boston police report.

The next day they made plans to meet again at the hotel where the woman was staying, the report said. There they had drinks and agreed to go to her room.

“The last thing she recalled before blacking out was attempting to take her belt off,” the report said. “The next thing she remembered was waking up in her bed alone and tucked in.”

She was nude, bruised, and had dried blood on her vagina and lower back.

She called a crisis line and was taken to Tufts Medical Center’s emergency department where detectives interviewed her.

“The victim stated that she believes the suspect drugged her,” the police report said. “The victim stated that in her blacked out or drugged state she did not have the ability or capability to consent to any sexual acts.”

When police announced McClanaghan’s arrest Saturday, they issued a warning about so-called date-rape drugs.


“The Boston Police Department advises the public of the dangerousness of scentless, colorless, and tasteless drugs such as Rohypnol, also known as roofie, being placed in the drinks of unsuspecting victims,” police said. “Other drugs commonly used in a similar fashion are GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) or Ketamine. These drugs and substances can cause disorientation, confusion, temporary paralysis, or unconsciousness, along with a host of other symptoms, leaving the potential victim vulnerable to the intentions of the suspect.”

McClanaghan started his career as a physical education teacher and assistant basketball coach at Bishop Hendricken, a private, all-boys school in Warwick, R.I., The Boston Globe reported last month.

There, he met current Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, who as a high school freshman in 2003 was essentially McClanaghan’s first client.

From his start working with the Hendricken Hawks, McClanaghan launched into the NBA, training stars such as Kevin Durant and Steph Curry.

Curry wrote the forward to McClanaghan’s 2019 book, “Net Work,” described by publisher Simon & Schuster as a combination of “McClanaghan’s hard-earned wisdom — both on and off the court — with rare glimpses into the dues-paying life of professional athletes determined to stay at the top.”

On his Instagram account, The_Rob_Mac, McClanaghan says to his more than 11,000 followers that he “provides on court 🏀 training for players of all levels.”

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