Saturday, 2:15 PM
Judge refuses to lower bail after Marshfield Fair victim recants
By David Abel, Globe Staff
A judge rejected a plea from prosecutors this afternoon and refused to reduce the bail of a Marshfield Fair carnival worker accused of rape even though one girl recanted and the other changed her story.
Judge Ronald F Moynahan browbeat an assistant district attorney for providing inconsistent and incomplete information in the case of 18-year-old Jeffrey D. Witham. Moynahan criticized prosecutors during a hearing in Plymouth District Court for being unable to say how Witham got the phone number or address or the two young girls or the extent of the injuries they allegedly suffered.
Witham will continue to be held on $150,000 cash bail on charges stemming from the alleged rape of the girls, aged 13 and 14. The Plymouth District attorney's office had asked the judge to reduce bail so Witham could be released.
"Given the state of the evidence, I don't feel it's just to hold the defendant in custody," said Assistant District Attorney Peter McGuire.
Prosecutors were not ready to dismiss the case because they were not sure whether the girl's story would change again, McGuire said.
Michael Bergeron, an attorney with the firm representing Witham, said they planned to have the bail reviewed on Friday and expected him to be released soon after. The defendant’s grandmother, Doris Witham, was disappointed by the judge's decision.
"I'd like him home," said Doris Witham, who lives with her grandson in Oxford, Maine.
Lawyers for Witham have said that detectives from the Marshfield Police Department interviewed one of the girls and “major aspects of the story has changed.”
The alleged victims initially told police that they had recently met Witham, a newly hired ticket collector for the carnival’s rides, and that they had spoken to him on their cell phones before he went to one of their homes on Sunday, according to court records.
They said he arrived at the home when they were alone, entered their living room, and began to touch them inappropriately. “The suspect then grabbed victim #1 and took her into her bedroom down the hall and climbed on top of her on her bed,” according to a police report of the incident.
The report added: “She told him to stop and kept saying no but he proceeded to have intercourse with her and wouldn’t get off of her. She then said he eventually got off of her and went back into the living room, where he then assaulted victim #2 again,” who was sitting on a couch in front of a computer.
After the alleged rapes, Witham began to get upset because he couldn’t find his clothes, according to the report. “Both victims were in fear of him and tried to locate his clothes, so that he would leave as soon as possible,” according to the report. “Jeff kept getting more angry while looking for his clothes.”
The girls then took the opportunity to flee the house, but he caught one of them outside. “The suspect grabbed hold of her and bit her on the neck,” according to the report. “He then started dragging her into the woods as she attempted to fight him off. Victim # 2 said she was scared she was going to get raped again.”
The report said that Witham “grabbed her by the throat, chocking her as he was dragging her into the woods across the street against her will. Victim # 2 stated that she was telling him to stop and to let her go repeatedly with no success.”
The girls then called one of their parents, who called Marshfield Police.
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