New Bedford Rapist Denied Parole
The Massachusetts Parole Board has decided against releasing a man convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman in New Bedford in 1977, after his parole was revoked once before.
At 20 years old, Robert Cantell was sentenced to life in prison in December 1977 after he broke into a New Bedford nursing home and kidnapped a female nurse at knifepoint earlier that year, according to a decision published by the parole board in late January.
He drove the 26-year-old victim to an isolated area and then forced her to dance naked and repeat obscenities before raping, sodomizing, and eventually abandoning her, the document stated.
Cantell was found guilty of rape, kidnapping, armed burglary, assault with a dangerous weapon, and engaging in unnatural acts.
Now 65, Cantell went before the parole board six times before he was released in 2010 — but his parole was revoked five months later, when he was found to have pornographic material and a four-inch knife.
He was denied parole again in 2015 and waived his hearing in 2020.
Although Cantell acknowledged that he caused the victim and her family a "lifetime of trauma," the parole board wrote, since his return to prison he had accrued "several concerning disciplinary infractions."
According to the board, he also displayed sexually deviant behavior, like writing sexually graphic and violent letters containing pictures of underage children to someone he described as a "like-minded pen pal."
Parole board members encouraged Cantell to continue to work on rehabilitating himself in prison.
He will next appear before the board for another parole hearing in 2025.