New Bedford Man Convicted of Aggravated Child Rape
FALL RIVER — A New Bedford man will serve up to two decades in state prison after he was convicted of aggravated child rape earlier this month — and the District Attorney's Office is crediting its new assistance dog for helping secure the conviction.
Lawrence Trahan, 44, was sentenced to 15 to 20 years behind bars following a three-day trial in Fall River Superior Court that found him guilty on May 6 of aggravated rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on a person under 14.
The child, who knows him, was 10 years old at the time.
Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn said that Trahan had access to the child through a relationship with her mother.
"Sadly, the victim’s mother supported the defendant during the trial," he said.
New Bedford police first heard a report of a potential child rape involving Trahan in December 2017, according to the Bristol County District Attorney's Office.
Investigators set up forensic interviews with the alleged victim at the Bristol County Children’s Advocacy Center.
The 10-year-old girl told authorities during the interviews that Trahan had touched her in "weird places" more than 20 times, including with his tongue and his genitals.
According to the D.A.'s office, the case was a "collaborative effort" between police, prosecutors, Children's Advocacy Center workers, and Chief, the office's new assistance dog.
Chief provides support to children during forensic interviews at the CAC, helping comfort victims as they share details of traumatic experiences with prosecutors.
He and his handler, Samantha Dias, met with the victim in this case.
The D.A.'s office said that during preparation for the trial, the victim was having difficulty discussing her experiences, and it was unclear if she would be able to testify.
But when Chief spent time with her the anxiety subsided and "she began to feel more confident in her ability to testify about the sexual assaults," the office noted.
After being released from prison, Trahan will immediately be placed on supervised probation for another five years with conditions including GPS monitoring and completing sex offender treatment as well as registering as a sex offender.
He will also be prohibited from living in a household with a minor child, having any unsupervised contact with children, or any employment or volunteering that puts him in contact with children.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Friedel prosecuted the case, and Judge Renee Dupuis handed down the sentence.
“I am pleased the jury held the defendant accountable for sexually abusing this young child," commented Quinn, noting that the "substantial prison sentence was warranted.”
"I commend the victim for her courage in disclosing the abuse and perseverance during delays in the case," he added, going on to thank the "entire investigatory and prosecution team" — including Chief — for their efforts.