Kevin O’Loughlin of Massachusetts served prison time at just 19 years old for the 1982 rape and kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl, a resident of Framingham, and has since been released. The girl had been playing hide and seek with her two brothers. Her attacker dragged her into the woods, forced her to remove her clothes at knifepoint, and stuffed one of her socks into her mouth as he sexually assaulted her. He then fled the scene, telling the girl to count to 100 before moving or he’d kill her.
Later, the girl indicated her attacker was a Caucasian male in his teens, about 5’10”, with dark hair parted down the middle and a mustache. She said he was wearing a light brown jacket, a dark brown shirt, brown corduroy pants, and work boots.
At about the same time the girl’s family was at the station, another police officer spotted O’Loughlin walking along the side of the road about a mile from where the kidnapping occurred. His appearance matched the girl’s description, so the officer stopped O’Loughlin and radioed his colleagues.
The girl wasn’t convinced by O’Loughlin’s appearance that he was her attacker and only identified him after hearing his voice. O’Loughlin was subsequently charged with rape, kidnapping, assault, possession of marijuana, sodomy, and assault with intent to commit murder.
The victim testified during a pre-trial hearing she did not visually identify the man, only by voice. She also testified the jacket O’Loughlin was wearing was not the same as the jacket worn by her attacker and the knife did not match his.
O’Loughlin, who lived two miles from the scene of the attack, testified he was home that night and left about 10:30 p.m. to walk to the store and buy a can of soda. His mother and sister also testified that he was home and two other witnesses said that O’Loughlin called them at their home from his home between 8 and 8:15 p.m. A third witness testified that O’Loughlin called her looking for her son around 7:45 p.m.
Nevertheless, he was ultimately charged with rape, kidnapping, assault, and possession of marijuana, and acquitted of assault with intent to commit murder and sodomy. Then, in 2012, Framingham police lieutenant Kevin Slattery contacted the Middlesex District Attorney’s office to report he had conducted a re-investigation of the case. Slattery’s investigation revealed other sexual assaults had occurred around the same time and in the same area as the girl’s attack.
Slattery discovered that two years before the incident, a 17-year-old had been arrested for exposing himself to a five-year-old girl and another woman and that he’d had a knife at the time. The minor also pled guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl and stuffing a sock in her mouth in 1984. This man was released from prison but was arrested again in 2011 for having naked photographs of children on his computer. He pled guilty and was sentenced to probation.
In 2013, Slattery interviewed him, and the man said he was “99 percent” sure he had committed the attack for which O’Loughlin was convicted. But, he had been drinking a lot at the time and suffered frequent blackouts. Because the statute of limitations had expired, he couldn’t be charged with a crime.
Following Slattery’s work, in November 2014, O’Loughlin moved to vacate his sentence and be released from prison. On December 30, 2014, the prosecution filed a response noting the other suspect’s “egregious sexual misconduct from 1984 to the present as well as his statements to Slattery in 2013.” It stated further, “Since it appears that justice may not have been done in this case, the Commonwealth assents to the allowance of O’Loughlin’s motion for a new trial.” The charges against O’Loughlin were ultimately dismissed.
After he was released, O’Loughlin sued the state, the town of Framingham, and many of the police officers involved in his conviction. A jury has now ruled in favor of the plaintiff and he is set to receive $1 million in damages.