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IRS agent sentenced to 7 to 8 years for raping intern in Boston in 2017

IRS agent James Clarke reacted after being sentence to seven to eight years in prison Tuesday for raping and choking a 21-year-old college intern.
IRS agent James Clarke reacted after being sentence to seven to eight years in prison Tuesday for raping and choking a 21-year-old college intern.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

An Internal Revenue Service agent was sentenced to seven to eight years in prison Tuesday for raping a 21-year-old college intern after handcuffing her and shoving his gun in her mouth inside his government-issued car.

In a powerful victim impact statement, the woman lashed out at James Clarke, the man convicted of raping her in a Boston parking garage in July 2017. In a rapt Suffolk County courtroom, she said she was terrified that Clarke was going to fire the gun and was “extremely grateful that I am alive and that my family is here for a rape case and not a homicide case.”

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She said she had waited more than two years for justice and felt revictimized during the week-long trial as Clarke sought to portray himself as a victim, testifying that their encounter was consensual. One of Clarke’s supporters had called her a vulgarity as she sat outside the courtroom after testifying, and another told her and her family they should be ashamed of themselves.

“How sad that they aren’t ashamed to be supporting a rapist,” said the woman, who urged the judge to impose a stiff sentence on Clarke, 46, a married father of three who lives in Newton. “How pathetic to tell me to be ashamed for standing up not only for myself but for women all around the world.”

After a few hours of deliberation in December, a jury found Clarke guilty of aggravated rape, rape, indecent assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and strangulation. The Globe does not identify sexual assault victims without their consent.

The woman said she hoped that if Clarke has sons, “they don’t turn out to be like him” and if he has daughters, “they never experience what he did to me.”

Clarke’s brother then shouted, “Shame on you!” He was quickly ushered out of the courtroom by court officers, who stood between Clarke’s supporters and the woman’s family during the tense hearing.

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Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum urged Kaplan to impose a sentence of at least 14 years, arguing that Clarke “essentially blamed the victim” after raping her.

He said Clarke, who was assigned to the IRS’s criminal investigation office in Boston, “used his position of power to his criminal advantage” over the young woman, who was working in the office as a summer intern.

Superior Court Judge Mitchell Kaplan sentenced Clarke to seven to eight years for aggravated rape and placed him on 10 years probation. Clarke must register as a sex offender and stay away from the woman after his release.

Kaplan rejected a request by Clarke’s attorneys to stay his sentence pending an appeal. Clarke, who did not make a statement during the hearing, was immediately taken into custody as his wife and mother sat crying in the courtroom.

Clarke’s lawyer, Robert Sheketoff, said Clarke had put himself through college and law school and lived “an exemplary life” before he was charged with rape. He said he had submitted 100 letters from Clarke’s friends, relatives, and colleagues, who described him as a “loving, intelligent, responsible human being.”

He said Clarke and the woman had “too much to drink” on the night of the incident and that Clarke believed the encounter was consensual.

At trial, the woman testified that Clarke invited her for drinks on the last day of her internship. She assumed other co-workers would be joining them, but only Clarke showed up at the Kinsale pub, located across from the IRS office. Clarke bought her five or six mixed drinks while they sat at the bar for five hours, then insisted on giving her a ride to South Station, where she was catching a bus home, she testified.

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Once 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. He assaulted her again outside South Station before letting her out of the car, she said. She immediately called 911 and reported she had been raped.

Clarke told jurors the encounter was “playful” and consensual. He said they had flirted at the bar and that the woman told him she wanted to have sex with him. He told jurors he unloaded his 40-caliber Glock and placed it in the woman’s mouth so that she could simulate oral sex.

The Globe first reported on the assault in November 2017, noting that Clarke had not been arrested and was allowed to continue working at the IRS during the investigation. In March 2018, he was indicted on rape charges, then placed on administrative leave some time later.

After Clarke was sentenced Tuesday, Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said she was “incredibly disappointed” with how the IRS responded to the accusations against Clarke.

“I think our government owes it to the public to hold their employees accountable when they are alleged to have engaged in egregious behavior,” Rollins said.

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She said the woman showed extraordinary perseverance by graduating from college with a 4.0 grade-point average 10 months after she was raped.

In her statement, the woman said she is stronger than she was before the assault, but will never be the same. She said she’ll “never walk in Boston the same” way, or feel safe going out at night with friends or having a drink in public.

“No one should have to think that if they end their night at a bar they will end up in handcuffs with a gun in their mouth and raped,” she said.

She said it was painful reliving what happened, but feels she now has a voice and said others who have been sexually assaulted should not be afraid to tell their stories.

“I am no longer a victim, but a survivor,” she said.


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