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Jurors hear woman’s testimony in Ware man’s rape trial

  • The Hampshire County Courthouse at 15 Gothic Street, Northampton. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/15/2020 11:21:15 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Jurors heard the first witness testimony Wednesday in the new trial of convicted rapist Arthur E. Salsbury Jr., including that of the woman who is accusing him of raping her in Granby in 2009.

Salsbury, 43, of Ware, is charged in Hampshire Superior Court with two counts of aggravated rape and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly raping the woman in a wooded area off of School Street in Granby in the early morning hours of Oct. 3, 2009. Salsbury recently received a 9-to-13½-year prison sentence for raping another woman in Granby in 2018.

Attorneys made opening statements Tuesday after the 14-person jury of eight men and six women was selected. Salsbury’s accuser was the second person to take the stand in testimony Wednesday. As a matter of policy, the Gazette does not generally identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

Assistant District Attorney Erin Aiello walked the alleged victim through a recount of her background and the events of Oct. 3, 2009. The woman told the jury that she was living in Holyoke at the time, adding she sometimes lived on the streets, was addicted to drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine, and was a sex worker. 

The woman said she had found an excuse to get ketchup so she could leave her boyfriend’s house in Holyoke to go and get high.

“I did get high, and then I was afraid to go back to his house, so I just stayed out on the streets walking around,” she said. 

The woman said she had been feeling tired from being awake after so many days of doing drugs and not sleeping. At some point, a man had pulled up behind her in an SUV around midnight and asked her if she was OK. The alleged victim said she told the man she was fine, and that she wasn’t interested in “doing a date.”

The woman testified she told the man she was going to Chicopee and needed a ride, and got into his car when he told her he was also going in the same direction. The man tried to pay for sex but the woman said she declined, adding that the last thing she saw before she fell asleep was the Willimansett Bridge. The woman said she woke up to the car going over bumps in an area she did not recognize. 

“I felt mad at first, and then I became scared after I realized that I was about to be attacked,” she said. “Because he said to me ‘Shut up, and don’t even think about screaming. Take your clothes off.’”

At one point, the woman said she had seen a knife in her attacker’s hand while they were in the car. 

“I was just scared, I thought he was going to kill me afterwards,” she said while wiping tears from her eyes. “So I was just really really in fear of what was going to happen next … he began to rape me.”

The woman testified that the man shoved her out of his car with his foot. As he drove away, she laid on the ground in shock, unable to move. Eventually, the woman said, she knocked at a few nearby homes until someone answered and called the police. 

Salsbury’s defense attorney David Mintz said the woman’s statements to the jury about how she was approached that night in Holyoke and what she told police were inconsistent. Mintz showed the woman two police reports that stated she had told officers she had waved for the man to come to her and asked for a ride.

“I could have said that, but I don’t remember saying that,” she said about telling police she waved the man over. “I did not ask him to give me a ride.”

Mintz also focused on the question of the woman’s drug use that night. The alleged victim said she had “probably used” heroin or crack cocaine between the time she had left her boyfriend’s house and being picked up. Mintz showed her a report from a sexual assault nurse examiner in which the woman had said she was “totally wasted,” but the woman later clarified that was in reference to her exhaustion.

Under cross-examination by Mintz, the woman testified that she did not remember saying to an officer that she had bought heroin with $20 that night, despite being shown a police report to the contrary. She also denied ever saying that she was “really high” that night.

“I knew what was going on … I was able to feel,” she said. “So, no, I wasn’t really high.”

Also testifying was William Menard, a lieutenant with the Amherst Police Department who was the first to call police after the alleged victim came to his house in the middle of the night.

“I stepped out to actually find out what was going on,” Menard said. “She was obviously upset, distraught, she said, ‘I need some help.’ She was crying.”

Aiello also called Granby Police Officer James White to the stand, who responded the night of the incident to Menard’s home. White said that the woman had a needle on her and that she did not appear to be under the influence.

Mintz showed White police reports that said he had observed signs of intoxication in the woman. White said he did not remember making observations of the alleged victim being under the influence before the woman’s saying she may have been.

Others testifying Wednesday were Massachusetts State Police Lt. Thomas F. Bakey, who helped investigate the crime scene, and Mary Walz-Watson, western Massachusetts regional coordinator for the state Department of Public Health Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program. Salsbury’s trial resumes Thursday.

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