Court upholds conviction in ’18 Lonsdale Street rape case

The Massachusetts Appeals Court last Friday upheld Charles Duncan’s 12-to-15 year prison sentence for raping a woman as she was walking home from the Shawmut T stop in 2018, saying he got a fair trial. The court, however, did strike his conviction for kidnapping as legally “duplicative” of his aggravated-rape conviction.

The latter ruling does not affect how much time he has to spend in prison because his kidnapping sentence was set to run concurrently with his rape sentence.

Duncan was also convicted of unarmed robbery because he took the woman’s phone. He is currently imprisoned in the Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater.

According to the court’s summary of the case, the woman was walking home from the T stop around midnight on May 24, 2018 and when she got to Dorchester Avenue and Lonsdale Street several blocks away, Duncan approached her from behind, put a hard object up to her head, and forced her down Lonsdale Street.

He claimed the object was a gun and demanded her phone, which she gave him. He then forced her into a Lonsdale Street backyard, where he raped her, told her to never walk down Lonsdale again, then let her get dressed and leave. She went home, called 911 and was transported to Boston Medical Center for an exam.

Meanwhile, the court continued, Duncan wasn’t feeling so well. After walking down Lonsdale away from Dorchester Avenue, he called 911 - on the victim’s phone - from Florida Street to request an ambulance because he was “experiencing back pain and anxiety.” He told 911 he did not know the phone’s number because it belonged to somebody else.

EMTs came, and even though they described him as “disheveled” and concluded that he didn’t appear to actually be in any physical distress, they took him to Carney Hospital anyway, where, as they were wheeling him into the emergency room, one of the EMTs learned that police were looking for a rape suspect with a description matching their patient’s. They also had taken a cell phone with the same number he had used to call 911.

Police were summoned, and Duncan was arrested. The victim positively identified him from a series of photos and the DNA from semen found in the woman matched his. The woman told police she had tried to dissuade him from raping her by saying because she was on her period, and blood was found on his penis during a medical exam.

In his appeal, Duncan’s attorney argued that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him of the rape.

The court disagreed, saying, there was more than enough evidence. In addition to the DNA matches, the blood, the victim’s identification and the phone evidence, prosecutors presented surveillance video showing the victim walking down Dorchester Avenue followed by a man wearing the same clothing that she and the EMTs described.

Although there were some differences in his appearance in court and what the victim described - whether or not he had a chipped tooth - the court said they were minor, and that “those variations were for the jury to consider in assessing the credibility of the victim’s testimony that she ‘got a good look at [the] person’ who raped her and of her description of that man.”

Also, according to the court ruling: “The defendant called 911 from a cell phone with the victim’s number and directed the dispatcher to send the ambulance to him on Florida Street, which was in the area where the assault occurred. Later, a red sweatshirt and the victim’s cell phone were located in that same area, and the defendant’s fingerprint was found on the abandoned cell phone.”

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