SALEM — A former Salem High football player was found guilty of taking part in the violent gang rape of a classmate four years ago in Lynn, a verdict that touched off a series of angry outbursts from the convicted man's family yesterday afternoon.
Police had to be called to Salem Superior Court after Rafael Nina-Brito's mother, sisters and friends began shouting insults and what sounded like threats toward the victim following the verdict, which was read just after 2:30 p.m.
"You're going to get yours," one of Nina-Brito's sisters shouted across the courtroom, calling her several unprintable vulgarities, as court officers and several assistant district attorneys who had come to watch the verdict stood between the two families.
Nina-Brito, 22, was one of four Salem High students who were charged with aggravated rape after the girl, then 17, went to the hospital, bleeding and reporting that she had been sexually assaulted in Nina-Brito's bedroom in Lynn in February 2008. Nina-Brito was found guilty of the lesser offense of rape.
The girl testified that she had called one of the other young men, a friend named Harold Baltodano, for a ride home to Salem after she was unable to get a ride from anyone else. The girl admitted she had been drinking after attending a basketball game in Lynn.
Instead of taking her home, the four teens took her to Nina-Brito's mother's house, where he stayed on weekends.
Nina-Brito told Lynn police during an interrogation that he did not physically penetrate the girl because, despite several attempts, was unable to physically do so, though he admitted touching her genitals and breast and standing over her head.
The girl told jurors that Nina-Brito had put his finger inside of her body, which under the law is considered rape. Prosecutors also argued that Nina-Brito enabled the others to commit aggravated rape, which made him just as liable.
The verdict came after about eight hours of deliberations over two days.
The rape conviction carries up to a life sentence. Judge John Lu set sentencing for April 11.
Nina-Brito, who had been free on bail in the case, was put into handcuffs and taken into custody in the courtroom.
Two co-defendants, Justin Louf and Luis Arias, pleaded guilty last week and received prison terms; Harold Baltodano is expected to go on trial later this year.
The victim and her parents, accompanied by a victim advocate, were escorted out of a back door of the courtroom by court officers after the outbursts by members of Nina-Brito's family, who were ushered out into a corridor, shouting. His girlfriend began pounding on a bench; another sister stood up and yelled an expletive.
Before the judge left the bench, Nina-Brito's mother called out to the judge "Can I say goodbye to my son?" When the judge said no and left the courtroom, Nina-Brito's mother began yelling "We're going to fix this problem in another way," as court officers demanded that she leave the courtroom.
The shouting continued in the corridors and outside the courthouse. As the victim and her parents left, surrounded by police and court officers, Nina-Brito's family members stood outside and again yelled vulgarities at her, as Salem police officers ordered them to leave.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.