SALEM — A man whose trial on charges that he sexually assaulted random women in four North Shore communities back in 2016 has repeatedly been delayed due to concerns over his competency.
But Mounir Rhoulam, 45, appears to have been competent since at least 2019, when he pleaded guilty to other sexual assault and lewdness charges in Plymouth Superior Court — where he’s already completed that sentence, then stood trial and was then found to be a sexually dangerous person by a Plymouth County jury last year.
The Plymouth County case involves sexual assaults on two nurses at the prison hospital where he has been held.
On Monday, Rhoulam’s lawyer in the North Shore cases acknowledged to a judge that Rhoulam has been deemed a sexually dangerous person and is now civilly committed to the Massachusetts Treatment Center in Bridgewater, a facility that houses sex offenders.
The designation as a sexually dangerous person came last April after a Plymouth County Superior Court jury trial, according to court records.
“If he had a trial, he has to have been competent,” Salem Superior Court Judge Thomas Drechsler remarked. “If he’s competent, we need to move this case forward.”
Rhoulam was linked to the series of random attacks on women walking in Marblehead, Swampscott, Lynn and then in Salem back in 2016, because of the GPS bracelet he was ordered to wear as a condition of his probation in a 2012 Revere sexual assault case, in which he broke into a home and attacked a woman he did not know.
Salem police used data from the GPS bracelet to show that he was in the same area of Derby Street where a woman was attacked just days after his sentencing to probation in the Revere case.
The GPS data also put him at the scenes of earlier incidents on walking trails in Marblehead and Swampscott (where he is also charged with vandalizing the tires of a number of vehicles), as well as in Lynn, prosecutors allege.
Rhoulam has pleaded not guilty to the charges, as well as to a charge of attempting to escape which was filed after he managed to climb over the wall of a holding cell in the Salem Superior Court’s first session courtroom.
Drechsler recalled that incident during Monday’s hearing. The judge scheduled a further hearing on March 29.
While Rhoulam remains in custody, he has made several efforts to obtain his freedom. In 2020, his attorney in the Plymouth case was granted funds by a judge to prepare a release plan for Rhoulam, in part citing concerns over COVID-19.
And weeks after the Plymouth County jury found him sexually dangerous and a judge ordered him committed from one year to life, Rhoulam filed a petition for a new hearing, which is pending, according to the case docket.