Charges Dropped in Plymouth County Voodoo Assault Case
Charges last week were suddenly dropped against two East Bridgewater women accused of harming two children in a supposed voodoo ritual.
Prosecutors withdrew charges against Rachel Hilaire, 40, and Peggy LaBossiere, 51, only two days before the suspects were scheduled to go on trial in Plymouth Superior Court. An ADA wrote that without testimony from the child victims, there was not enough evidence to move forward.
The cases were closed after the Plymouth County District Attorney’s office on Thursday filed a nolle prosequi, a formal court filing stating that the charges will no longer be prosecuted, according to the Brockton Enterprise.
“As reasons therefore, the Commonwealth has determined based on information obtained regarding the two children named as victims in this case that the children would be unavailable to testify in this matter,” Assistant District Attorney Shanan Buckingham wrote in the court filing, obtained by The Enterprise. “Furthermore, it is not in the best interest of the children or in the best interest of justice to further compel their testimony at this time.”
The two women, who are sisters, were arrested in January of 2018. It happened after East Bridgewater police were asked to perform a welfare check on a Randolph woman and her two young children who had been staying at a home in East Bridgewater. When officers arrived, they found a 5-year-old girl with burns on her face.
During an investigation, the girl's mother, described as a hairdresser of Haitian descent, reportedly told police that Hilaire and LaBossiere performed the ritual to vanquish an evil spirit that had caused the girl to misbehave.
Hilaire and LaBossiere allegedly performed a ritual where their friend's daughter was tied up with ropes and something was burned with fire. Then cloths treated with chemicals were put over her face. Police at the time said the chemicals burned the girl so badly that she would be permanently disfigured. The two suspects also allegedly threatened to decapitate the girl's 8-year-old brother, who told police he witnessed the ritual performed on his sister.
At the time, the children were taken into custody by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. The children's mother was not charged.
Hilaire and LaBossiere were charged with mayhem, assault and battery on a child with injury, indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, threatening to commit murder, and assault and battery with dangerous weapon.
Beth Stone, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Timothy Cruz, told the Enterprise that prosecutors may refile charges at a later date if circumstances change or additional evidence is developed.
“The facts of this case were disturbing and there is no question that these children have been impacted by the circumstances in this case," Stone said. "As the trial date approached, however, it became evident that these two child victims would be unable to testify or would be substantially limited in their ability to testify.” Stone said.
Stone said the DA's office decided to drop the charges because "in the absence of testimony from the victims, it was determined that we could not meet our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt."
Stone said in making the determination, the Plymouth County DA "carefully considered how best to protect these children from being further traumatized so that they may continue to move forward with their lives.”