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IRS agent found guilty of raping college intern in Boston

James Clarke.
James Clarke.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

A jury Thursday found an Internal Revenue Service agent guilty of raping and choking a 21-year-old college intern at gunpoint inside his government-issued car in a downtown Boston garage in 2017.

James Clarke, 45, shook his head in disbelief in Suffolk Superior Court as he was convicted on six charges — two counts of aggravated rape, rape, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, indecent assault and battery, and strangulation. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 7 and faces a minimum of 10 years in prison.

The young woman had detailed the sexual assault during two days of wrenching testimony and sat in the back of the courtroom with her parents and other relatives and friends Thursday, wiping away tears as the verdict was read.

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“I’m overwhelmed, joyful,” she said during a brief interview outside the courtroom. “It just feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulder and that I finally had a voice.”

Taking the stand during the weeklong trial and providing a detailed account of the July 26, 2017, attack was difficult, she said.

“But I knew that I had to be able to get through what I was going through in order to get the justice that I needed.”

The Globe doesn’t identify sexual assault victims without their consent.

The jury delivered its verdict after 3½ hours of deliberations.

The Globe first reported on the assault in November 2017, noting that the woman had called 911 but that Clarke had not been arrested and was allowed to continue working at the IRS despite the ongoing investigation. He was assigned to the IRS’s criminal investigation office in Boston and worked on a Drug Enforcement Administration task force. In March 2018, he was indicted on rape charges, then placed on administrative leave some time later.

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The IRS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Clarke’s conviction Thursday.

During her two days on the stand, the woman told jurors she didn’t have much interaction with Clarke while working as a summer intern at the IRS office before early July, when he gave her $20 after learning she was going to a casino in Connecticut with friends to celebrate her 21st birthday.

She said Clarke invited her for drinks at the Kinsale pub, across the street from the IRS office, on the last day of her internship. She said she assumed other co-workers would be joining them and was surprised when only Clarke showed up.

The woman said they spent five hours at the pub, where Clarke bought her five or six mixed drinks and he drank beer. She said she felt “wobbly” after three or four drinks and Clarke insisted on driving her to South Station, where she was catching a bus home.

Once they were inside his car at the Government Center Garage, he handcuffed her, choked her, shoved his gun in her mouth, and sexually assaulted her, she testified.

“I was in complete shock,” the woman said. She was terrified and could barely breathe, she told jurors.

Clarke drove her to South Station, where he sexually assaulted her again in the car before letting her out, she said. She called a friend, who told her to call police. The woman called 911 and said she had been raped at gunpoint. Surveillance footage from the area shows her struggling to walk, her knees buckling, and crying as she talks to a friend on the phone.

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The next day, police seized Clarke’s 40-caliber Glock and later found the woman’s DNA profile on the barrel.

Clarke, a married father of three, who testified for two days, told jurors that their encounter was “playful” and that the woman flirted with him at the bar and told him she wanted to have sex inside his car.

Clarke said he handcuffed the woman because “it was playful, it was meant to be sexual.” He said he removed his gun because it was in the way as he pressed against her in the car. He unloaded it before placing it in her mouth, he said.

“The gun was a prop in role play,” he said. “It was not degrading. It was not violent. It was not threatening.”

Clarke’s wife, mother, other relatives, and friends filled the courtroom each day of the trial. His wife rushed out immediately after jurors announced the verdict. She could be heard crying loudly.

After the jury filed out, Clarke remained standing, staring at photographs of his children that he had placed on the table in front of him.

Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum urged Judge Mitchell Kaplan to revoke Clarke’s bail, but the judge agreed to a defense request to release him with a GPS monitoring device.

He ordered Clarke to remain under house arrest until his sentencing.

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After the verdict, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said the facts of the case were “really egregious” and “we are happy we held this person accountable.”

Outside the courtroom, the woman said she didn’t hear Clarke’s testimony and didn’t know what he told the jury, “but I know that whatever he said it must have been stories and lies.”

The woman said she was nervous as she waited for the verdict but had faith that the jury would find Clarke guilty.

She said she wanted to let other victims of sexual assault know that “it’s hard, but it’s worth it in the end” to report what happened and face their attacker.

“It’s important to have voices for every other woman out there,” she said.


Shelley Murphy can be reached at shmurphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.