SALEM — The families of two Saugus residents accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in September embraced one another inside a courtroom Monday after a judge said the defendants could be released to home confinement.
Kailyn Bonia, 19, and Rashad Deihim, 20, were accused in Essex Superior Court of attacking the girl Sept. 3 behind Waybright Elementary School in Saugus. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges including assault to rape, kidnapping, and indecent assault and battery on a person over 14.
The attack was allegedly recorded and distributed on the social media application Snapchat.
Judge John T. Lu’s ruling Monday came after a letter was submitted to the court that was written by the victim in January. The letter said, “The court system is treating my friends like [rapists]. That’s gross. I miss my friends.”
The handwritten letter continued, “No one [raped] me. Everything that happened was consented.”
Bonia’s attorney, James Caramanica, requested that the victim be summoned to court to testify about whether the two should be released pending trial. She did not testify, but Essex Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall said the girl was present in the courtroom.
Lu set bail for Bonia at $50 cash, ordering her to home confinement with GPS monitoring. He also ordered her to stay away from the victim and to not contact witnesses. Bonia is only allowed to go out for documented work and attorney and medical visits, and she must take drug and alcohol tests. All medications must also first be approved by the court.
“I find that there is a combination of conditions that . . . will reasonably protect the alleged victim and the public,” Lu said before detailing Bonia’s order.
Lu set bail for Deihim at $1,000 cash, ordering him to home confinement, too, though under tighter restrictions. He can only leave his home for court appearances. He was also ordered to stay away from the victim and to not contact witnesses.
MacDougall had argued for Deihim to remain in the Essex House of Correction, noting at the time of his arrest for the alleged assault he had two open cases and his mother previously had a restraining order against him.
“Upon learning from Ms. Bonia that he was wanted for this offense, he fled,” MacDougall told the judge. Deihim ran off to New Hampshire and possibly Florida for two weeks before ultimately turning himself in.
“I’m concerned he would cut the bracelet as quickly as it was put on,” MacDougall said.
Deihim’s attorney David C. Newton argued that his client deserved the same conditions as Bonia.
“It’s alleged they were acting together,” Newton said. “The defendants are similarly situated, and if charges are viable for one, they’re viable for another.”
Moments after Lu rendered his decision, Bonia turned around to her relatives in the courtroom and smiled, then turned to Deihim, giving him a thumbs-up sign.
“I’ve been waiting for this for months,” said Bonia’s mother, Christine. “It’s been awful. We knew from the beginning it was blown out of proportion.”
Bonia said that once her daughter is released, she will take her out to eat.
“I’m so happy,” she said.
Deihim’s mother, Nadia Mahboula, 49, cried.
“He’s innocent. . . . They’re just kids,” she said standing beside Deihim’s father, Fardad Deihim. “Seven months just wasted. It was horrible.”
Mahboula said the time her son has spent behind bars has been rough. He was bullied and called a rapist, she said.
“He said, ‘Mom, I don’t belong here,’ ” Mahboula recalled her son saying.
“His family is just relieved he’ll be able to come home,” Newton said. “He’s always professed his innocence.”
Prosecutors said the victim in the video was heavily intoxicated. Lab tests revealed she had alcohol, oxycodone, and tetrahydrocannabinol, a chemical in marijuana often referred to as THC, in her system, court records show.
MacDougall told the court that the victim “remembers having some sexual contact that was consensual with Ms. Bonia, but she does not remember Deihim.” MacDougall said the victim indicated that she blacked out for periods during the assault.
A third person, Timothy Cyckowski, 18, of Saugus, faces charges for allegedly videotaping the assault using Snapchat and later distributing the video clips.
Cyckowski is being tried in juvenile court because he was 17 when he was arrested. He has pleaded not guilty. His father, Matthew, 38, who is charged with destroying evidence, has also pleaded not guilty.
Authorities were first contacted by another 16-year-old girl who had received four Snapchat videos of the attack from Cyckowski.
The girl took screenshots of the video clips, which she showed to her parents, who alerted police, according to court records. Snapchat causes messages to vanish within seconds of arriving.
Bonia and Deihim are due back in court for their trial Aug. 10.