What prosecutors said at the start of the trial of Victor Peña, accused of kidnapping and raping a woman

“A night out with her twin sister and some friends turned into almost three days of hell, three days of fear, three days of isolation."

Victor Pena arrives for a competency hearing at Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston on July 7. Craig F. Walker/Boston Globe Staff
Victor Peña

Over three years since authorities found a 23-year-old woman alive three days after she went missing after leaving a downtown Boston bar, the trial for the man prosecutors say locked her away in his Charlestown apartment and repeatedly raped her, Victor Peña, began Monday, with a glance inside what prosecutors called “three days of hell.”

“A night out with her twin sister and some friends turned into almost three days of hell, three days of fear, three days of isolation,” Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum told the jury during an opening statement in Suffolk Superior Court, The Boston Globe reports.


Peña, 42, is charged with kidnapping and 10 counts of aggravated rape. He’s been held without bail since his arrest in January 2019. A judge found Peña was dangerous during a subsequent hearing in April that year.

In court on Monday, Peña watched the first day of his trial from a separate room via an audiovisual feed and a Spanish interpreter after electing to do so, Judge Anthony Campo told jurors. Peña had previously disrupted jury selection last week when he appeared naked on a courtroom monitor and performed an obscene act.

On Monday, Polumbaum set the scene for the jury of the night Peña met his alleged victim.

The woman, Polumbaum said, was intoxicated to the point where amid the snowstorm that night, she was “literally swaying in the wind as she tried to walk,” when Peña discovered her, the Globe reports.

From there, Peña led — and, at certain points in the night, carried — the victim down the street to an MBTA station and into his apartment.

In the following days, the victim’s “regrettable blur” transformed into “an indelible nightmare,” Polumbaum said.

Following Peña’s arrest in 2019, authorities had said the victim encountered him as she crossed Congress and State streets and he “immediately began hugging, kissing, and walking with her.”


The victim told police she woke up the next morning in Peña’s apartment and could not remember what happened.

As she got up to leave, Peña “physically stopped her, told her to be quiet and threatened several times to kill her,” officials said.

“He said he had rescued her on the street, he loved her and they were going to start a family,” authorities said. “His statements and the physical circumstances made clear that he had subjected her to intercourse while she was incapacitated by alcohol.”

Peña then allegedly went on to force her to perform sexual acts and raped her over the course of the next three days, officials said at the time. He also thwarted her other attempt to flee, took her cell phone away, and gave her only canned pineapple to eat, according to police.

When police eventually located the victim and drilled down Peña’s locked door, Peña fought with detectives as they attempted to detain him, according to authorities. Evidence taken from the apartment corroborated the victim’s account of her alleged confinement and rapes, police said.

Lorenzo Perez, Peña’s attorney, said on Monday the case will come down to “bizarre” behavior from Peña — actions that could prompt jurors to question his intent and state of mind.


Perez plans to seek “lack of criminal responsibility because of mental disease or defect,” filings show.

Peña, for example, sucked his thumb while on a subway platform the night he met the victim and went on illogical rants, such as when he told the woman he was happy to save her and that he wanted to start a family with her, according to Perez.

“He lived behind a door of double locks and concerns,” Perez said.

Still, Campo ruled earlier this month that Peña was competent to stand trial following a mental health evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital and a three-day hearing on his current mental health state.

Peña’s older brother, Jose Peña, however, has previously told the Globe his brother became mentally impaired at age 7 when he suffered a medical issue that temporarily blocked oxygen from reaching his brain.

In September, Peña disrupted his previous trial after firing his lawyer because the lawyer did not agree to tell the court the victim was a sex worker, a false and baseless claim, filings show.


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