For Immediate Release - July 17, 2009

SJC Upholds Convictions In Lynn Rape

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court yesterday upheld the convictions of Frantz Kebreau for multiple counts of rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on persons under the age of 14. Kebreau was convicted by a Superior Court jury in October 2005 and sentenced to two concurrent life terms.

On appeal, Kebreau argued that statements he made at a meeting with the victims and church pastors were protected by priest-penitent privilege and that the first complaint doctrine was violated when two witnesses were permitted to testify about one victim's statements about assaults that took place at different times. (The first complaint doctrine states that in sexual assault cases, only the first person to whom the assault was disclosed may testify.)

The SJC rejected both claims and affirmed the convictions. They ruled that the statements from the meeting with church pastors did not occur in the context of the defendant seeking spiritual advice or comfort and are therefore not protected by priest-penitent privilege. In addition, they ruled that the first complaint doctrine was not violated since the testimony was about two different assaults at different times.

Essex Assistant District Attorney Catherine Semel handled the appeal. The case was originally prosecuted by Essex Assistant District Attorney Kristen Buxton. The case was heard by Judge David A. Lowy.

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