Victor Pena, the Charlestown man accused of kidnapping and repeatedly raping a 23-year-old woman over three days in January, told his horrified victim that he rescued her and they were going to start a family, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Pena also confiscated the woman’s phone and fed her canned pineapple, while forcing her to drink liquor, read passages from the Bible, and pose for selfies with him, Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum said.
“Taken as a whole, these are not happy pictures,” Polumbaum said during Pena’s arraignment in Suffolk Superior Court on one count of kidnapping and 10 counts of aggravated rape. Pena, 38, stood handcuffed in jail garb, sporting stubble as he pleaded “innocent” and “not guilty” in Spanish. He’s been held without bail since his January arrest.
Pena’s lawyer, William Barabino, told reporters that his client denies the charges. Barabino asserted that the alleged victim went “voluntarily” with Pena to his apartment. He described Pena as a “pleasant, considerate” man with the cognitive ability of an 11- or 12-year-old.
“That will hopefully come into play,” said Barabino, whose prior clients have included John Burbine, a Wakefield man who killed himself while awaiting trial for allegedly molesting 13 infants and toddlers.
Barabino’s assertion that Pena’s alleged victim went with him willingly stood in stark contrast to the chilling allegations laid out Wednesday by Polumbaum and the government’s statement of the case.
According to prosecutors, the woman became intoxicated on the night of Jan. 19 at Hennessy’s bar in Boston, and she and a young man she’d been dancing with were asked to leave.
The man was “pulled away” by friends, records show, leaving the woman alone in a snowstorm. She encountered Pena and another man at Congress and State streets, and Pena ignored that second man, who told him, “Leave her alone; she’s drunk,” Polumbaum said.
Instead, the case statement alleged, Pena “immediately began hugging, kissing and walking with her. Video surveillance showed Pena holding [her] up and at one point literally carrying the victim past buildings on Devonshire and Washington streets.”
Prosecutors said Pena brought her to the MBTA’s State Street station, where they boarded an Orange Line train. Another rider saw Pena propping up the alleged victim, “who was listless with her eyes fluttering,” the statement said.
Pena later walked the woman for about a mile to his apartment on Walford Way, records show.
“She awoke Sunday morning on a bare mattress in Pena’s apartment,” the statement said. “When she tried to get dressed and leave, Pena physically stopped her, told her to be quiet and threatened several times to kill her.”
Prosecutors said the woman submitted to Pena’s sexual demands out of fear. She considered striking him with an object to escape but feared her situation could worsen if the plan failed, according to prosecutors.
In addition, Pena had an extra “deadbolt locked in both directions” on his door, the statement said.
Court papers show Pena wore sunglasses when he posed with the woman for selfies and directed her to smile and kiss him, but in “the vast majority of the pictures she did not smile. . . . To placate Pena and stall for time, the victim offered to help clean his filthy apartment.”
After a massive manhunt that included help from the woman’s sister, who tracked her whereabouts with an app, police arrived on Jan. 22 at the residence of Pena, who has a history of accosting and allegedly attacking women, as well as prior charges for groping teen girls in New York that were dropped due to his mental capacity, prosecutors said.
As police began drilling through the deadbolt, Pena told the woman to get dressed and returned her phone, ordering her to tell someone she was OK, records show.
The woman texted “I love you too” to a friend who had tried to reach her, the statement said.
When detectives entered Pena’s apartment, the woman was “visibly frightened and shaking, and immediately said Pena had taken her phone and [would] not let her leave,” the statement said, adding that a hospital examination and other evidence supported her account of “confinement and rapes.”
Pena, meanwhile, told police after being taken into custody that “he took the victim home from the street because she needed help, and because she reminded him of a daughter he had not seen for 10 years,” the statement said.
On Wednesday, Pena smiled and waved at his brother, Jose Pena, before the hearing started. He later shook his head as court officers led him out.
Jose Pena told reporters afterward that his brother was innocent.
Regarding the alleged victim, Jose said, “She did what she did, and now she tried to cover [for] herself” by bringing the allegations.
Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.