Police said a 17-year-old Haverhill girl ran away from home after family members accused her of lying about being raped on numerous occasions over several years by a relative — a 39-year-old Bradford man who now stands accused of that crime and others.
William Thomas Evans was arrested following a six-month investigation involving Haverhill police and the state Department of Children and Families, it was revealed in Haverhill District Court recently. He faces a total of 35 charges in the case — 12 counts of rape of a child by force, five counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, five counts of aggravated rape of a child (five year age difference), 12 counts of aggravated rape of a child (10 year age difference) and one count of distribution of obscene matter, court records show.
Evans' lawyer said the teen has a history of telling lies.
The abuse began when the victim was 7 years old, she told officials, according to a police report.
Essex County District Attorney's office spokeswoman Carrie Kimball said the punishment for the crimes Evans is accused of varies.
"Child rape is punishable by any term of years from probation to life in prison," Kimball said. "The judge decides upon conviction."
Haverhill police became aware of the abuse in March, when the victim told family members about an incident of sexual abuse, the police report said. When the victim disclosed what happened to her, those she told did not believe her, the report said. The victim then decided to run away, according to the report.
The girl's family reported her missing and she was later found by police, the report said.
During an interview with police in March, the victim recounted the events of the night before she decided to leave home. She told police that she was called a liar when "she said it out loud," but would not elaborate and stopped talking, the report said.
Once the interview with police resumed, according to the report, officers learned that Evans had an argument with the victim and she became so angry at him that she yelled, "Get away from me, you rapist."
When asked why she would say such a thing, she responded, "Because it happened to me, that's why," according to the police report.
During the teen's initial interview with police, she said "I don't remember" when asked when the sexual assaults first happened, according to he police report. She later said Evans first raped her when she was in middle school, according to the report. During the interview, she said he had most recently sexually assaulted her two weeks earlier, according to the report.
When speaking to investigators in March, the victim said Evans would also show her obscene videos on his phone, the police report said.
As part of the investigation, the victim was interviewed again in August, according to the report, and a Zoom conference with several people including a victim witness advocate, forensic interviewer and sexual assault nurse took place. During that interview, the report said, the victim recounted the first incident of sexual abuse that she said happened when she was 7 years old. She said that incident involved Evans touching her inappropriately and showing her pornography, according to the report.
The victim went on to graphically recall several other instances of sexual assaults by Evans, according to the report.
Following the interview with the victim and others close to her, police decided there was probable cause to issue a warrant for the arrest of Evans, the report said. He was taken into custody in Haverhill the morning of Sept. 11, court records show.
Evans was arraigned in Haverhill District Court on the charges later in the afternoon of Sept. 11 and remained held without bail until a dangerousness hearing on Sept. 16. At that hearing before Judge Patricia Dowling, he was again held without bail because the judge determined he is a danger to the community.
Evans' defense attorney Timothy Connors said in court that the teen has been "lying for much of her life" and has been evaluated for anger issues since age 10. Connors also said that there have been 47 "51A reports," or accusations of child abuse or neglect filed with the state Department of Children and Families, against Evans that were unsupported.
Evans next appears in court in late October.