I-Team: Double Standard With Rape Cases In Massachusetts?

By Joe Shortsleeve, Chief Correspondent for the WBZ-TV i-Team

TOWNSEND (CBS) – Hanging out at a friend’s house, that’s how a Townsend mom assumed her 13-year-old son spent a hot Friday in early July.

Instead, she says the boy and three friends went to the home of a 19-year-old woman.

“I was quite upset because I didn’t know where he was,” said the mom, who did not want to be identified to protect her son. “I would not have OK’ed for him to go over there.?

When she finally tracked the boys down across town, she loaded them into her car to take them home. That’s when one of the boy’s friends broke into tears and told the mom that her son had sex in a hot tub with the much-older teenager.

WBZ-TV i-Team Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve reports:

“I was livid,” the mom said. “The anger I felt as a parent just overcame me.”

But this woman’s anger would only deepen when she called Townsend police and there was no arrest. That’s in spite of the fact that her son and the friends who witnessed the hot tub sex, confirmed the story to police.

The i-Team obtained a harassment ordered filed by the Townsend officers. It required the woman to stay away from the child, calling the incident statutory rape. Police also notified the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office. But the DA never contacted the victim’s mother until after the i-Team called the office to find out why the DA had not followed up on the case.

“I think that if this were a man and a 13-year-old girl that he would have been arrested by now,” the mom said.

Wendy Murphy, a former Middlesex County prosecutor and an expert on sex crimes agrees.

“If the genders were reversed, I don’t think there would be any question the perpetrator would be under arrest and there would be charges,” she said.

The law is clear. The age of sexual consent in Massachusetts is 16. That means sex between a 19-year-old woman and a 13-year-old boy is a crime.

Murphy explained that prosecutors often won’t file charges if the subjects are close in age. For example, they would probably not pursue a case between two 15-year-olds in a consensual relationship.

“The wider the age gap, the less discretion prosecutors should be exercising here, and this is huge. This is a six-year age gap. That’s not even a close call,” Murphy said.

But law enforcement has little experience with cases like this. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 70% of males who are raped never tell anyone.

“They are stuck in this culture of masculinity and everyone around them is saying ‘atta boy’,” Murphy said. “But we know that in the long run they suffer terribly.”

But this boy did speak up, so why wasn’t the accused person arrested? A spokesperson for the District Attorney tells the i-Team it was up to local police.

When WBZ-TV went to talk to Townsend Chief Erving Marshall, he wouldn’t talk to us on camera. In a statement he said, “There is nothing unusual or out of the ordinary in how this case was/is being handled.” He went on to say to infer otherwise, “…is disingenuous and an insult to the hardworking investigators.”

Still the boy’s mother believes an arrest would have sent an important message to the woman.

“I’m just amazed when she was done with my son, she is trying to get other kids to go over there,” she said.

When we asked what she would like to see happen here, she answered simply, “I just want justice for my son.”

The Townsend Police Department and the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office are adamant that there is no double-standard here. They insist the case would have been handled exactly the same if the sexes were reversed.

We have not identified the woman in the case because right now, she does not face criminal charges. The District Attorney is continuing its investigation. We’ll let you know what they decide to do.

  • Willow

    I absolutely believe there is a double standard when it comes to male rape. Why a 19 year old can have sex with a 13 year old and not be charged with statutory rape is beyond me. If I was this mother, I would be livid too, and would pursue the matter until this woman was arrested.

  • jeffsmom

    i live in Townsend and BELIEVE me it is SUCH a goodboy town when it comes to “who you are” the police have been known to give well known business owners rides when they are too drunk to drive— taxi service by police?? please. nothing surprises me in this town anymore

    • Townsend Resident

      So you would rather the police let them drive? Or did you get a speeding ticket from one of our Police Officers and now you’re mad?

  • dms

    I do think there is a difference between the two scenarios. It’s simply impossible for a boy to have sex without being physically aroused. That’s not necessarily the case the other way around. A lot of young girls are coerced or pressured into putting out which just doesn’t really work with a boy. He had a good time and no harm done.

    Also, a 19 year old is still a kid herself. It’s not like he was taking advantage of by an adult.

    As far as one of the boys breaking down in tears and telling on her son, I don’t believe that for a minute. I’m sure little Johnny was all smiles on the way home.

    • Christmas Tree

      Unfortunately, I know this girl and she is not innocent at all. She knew exactly waht she was doing and what she did was wrong and extremely disgusting. She needs to pay for waht she has done. She is old enough to know better and it’s sickening to know that the authorities have done nothing.

      • open your eyes

        Small towns love big stories and that is what this is.
        CT i am more inclined to believe you know the mother and not the girl.
        I hear and of course again i remind you small town big stories, that mom is allegelly under investigation for neglect by DSS. She’s a real piece of work ifyou
        know her. Maybe she’s pushing the case to take the attention off of herself.
        Everyone is so quick to blame the police but they are the first ones you call when you need anything. If there was a case they would of pursued the matter. Obviously the evidence is not there and the boys were not believable.

    • LadyGAGA

      Are you ok ????? This is a serious matter not one to laugh about….You werent there so you have no clue….. its people like you that make this world sick to live in.

      • dms

        First of all, I wasn’t laughing. You need to lighten up. I have a 13 yr old son myself and while I certainly would not encourage him to fool around with 19 yr old girls, I also would cry statutory rape unless he was forced or harmed in any way. Nevertheless, this girl has some issue that need to be addressed.

        For your information, your average 13 yr old boy will mount whatever can’t get up a tree fast enough. So mommy needs to get over it.

        As far as believing the mother’s story is concerned, I’m constantly exposed to dozens of 13-14 yr old boys, and I can not imagine that any one of them would break down in tears over such an event. If that really happened, there must be a lot more to the story.

    • areyouserious

      Let me be clear…YOU ARE AN IDIOT. the female was 19 and therefore a legal adult. The male was only 13 so whether he liked it or not its still rape since he is not a consenting adult. i feel sorry for your offspring.

  • Pat

    Seriously people-do you think its ok for a 19 year old to have sex with a 13 year old? 19 is an adult. 13 is a minor. The mother has every right to be outraged. It is wrong. The 19 year old should be charged and register as a sex offender if found guilty. If not she could go on to teaching or coaching young people or some other career where she can continue this behavior easily.

    As far as the police officer driving home a drunk, what is wrong with that? The officer may have prevented an accident. They get paid to protect the public. What does it have to do with being a business owner?

  • Paul

    here is a scenerio….what if it were a 19 year old boy who had sex the 13 year old boy….the 19 year old would be behind bars or in front of a judge the next day. What is the woman saying? “it was consentual?” The 13 year old cannot consent.

  • Parent

    any way you look at it when you turn 18 you are an adult and should suffer for your actions! it may be a different story if they both were 13 but the women is an adult and knew the boys age why would a 19 year old girl seek pleasure from a 13 yr old boy sick!! and then she was trying to lure other boys to her home what is wrong with this women?? i guess the police are not concerned with the community!! the law is the law consent in MA is 16 so whats the problem?? any sexual act with a minor is wrong period and And for the jerk Bills Cat you are one messed up individual!! seek help….

  • outraged

    ya well lusting and acting are two different things!! maybe you have somthing to hide with your train of though, sick !! I hope for your sake you dont have children.

  • nairb

    Sounds like somebody’s up for the luckiest boy in mass. award!

  • nairb

    Sounds like somebody’s up for the luckiest boy in america award.

  • duder


  • WG

    Why did these boys go over there in the first place? That’s what I’d like to know. Did she offer them pocket money to do some yardwork….or did they know full well what was going to happen?

    Yes, it’s a disturbing story – but there’s some info missing too.

  • BS

    There is a lot more to this story than anyone realizes. The mother didn’t know where her 13 year old son was?!?! I know when i was thirteen that my mother had tabs on every single place i went. She supposedly tracked them down across town? How does a thirteen year old boy get across town? And have their mother not know where they are? More so, it is amazing that this supposed act was in front of other boys. This story seems very unrealistic. I think the mother of the boy needs to get a tighter leash on her child because obviously he is promiscuous and probably saying he didn’t initiate it because he is scared that mommy will slap his bottom. Just to add to this story I talked to someone that knows the mother of the “little boy” and she is being investigated by DSS for child neglect. To all those that say that it is sick for this to happen are ignorant and dont realize how our society is nowadays. Im not saying that this is in anyway right Im just saying that maybe this 19 year old was coarsed by the boy. From what this other parent has told me the girl was a virgin and no actual sex had taken place. Its all hearsay. I think we should turn our attention to the mother of the boy and ask why her 13 year old is out without supervision.

    • People are IDIOTS!!

      My son is 13 and he rides his bike to his friends houses around town we live in townsend as well!! I know the mother personally and you should get your facts straight about DSS being involved and why!!! the DA has to notify them. when somthing like this happens really you are grasping at straws!!! Even if she were being investigated and lets say the child was even willing to engage in a sexual act with the women IT IS ILLEGAL!!!! 13 yr olds can not consent! it is wrong she is an ADULT!! this is about the child and has nothing to do with the mother. How can It be hearsay when there were witnesses she was hoping to get in the pants of all those boys there!! What kinda of girl has 4 boys underage boys over in her hottub??? SICK PEOPLE…..

      • blue flower

        oh there is evidence, this girl should have thought twice about what she was texting to a minor it can be saved! and as for BS I think ur full of BS, guess u never lied to your parents about what you were doing or who u were with when u were young liar.
        As for the TPD the family believes they have done there job as far as investigating . But the DA is pointing the finger back saying they had the authority to arrest her? what is one to think in the game of finger pointing?BS I Hope for your sake your son or daughter is never raped and your parenting is put under a microscope get a life!! anyone can drop a dime to DSS please!! dont punish your kids cause they could call on you! lmao.
        DSS can actually be benifical to families, seeing I have a friend who works for them. This boy is a great kid and i think the small minded ones are missing the point here. consent in MA is 16 its the law and solicitation of a minor is also against the law she is a flat out sex offender!

  • 19 year old virgin

    An adult was coarsed by a child thats a new one, so isn’t a Virgin at 19 now thats unrealistic now a days. are you hearing yourself BS?

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