A Manhattan corporate attorney accused of being a serial rapist in Boston during the early 2000s made his first court appearance on Monday as the defendant’s fiancée reportedly sat stone-faced throughout the proceedings while clutching a rosary.
Matthew Nilo, 35, stands accused of three counts of aggravated rape, two counts of kidnapping, one count of assault with intent to rape, and one count of indecent assault and battery. The defendant, who hails from the area, pleaded not guilty to the charges during a bail hearing in Suffolk Superior Court, according to local ABC affiliate WCVB.
The defendant was arrested in late May after reportedly being lured to his apartment building in Weehawken, New Jersey, Boston Police Department Commissioner Michael Cox announced last month.
Nilo is suspected of committing three rapes and one attempted rape between 2007 and 2008 when he was a college student. Each of the four incidents is said to have occurred in the historic Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. The defendant himself was raised in the North End neighborhood – which is located across the Charles River.
The defendant graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010; he obtained his law degree from the University of San Francisco in 2015, according to WCVB.
During the arraignment, Suffolk County prosecutors detailed allegations made by four women. Three of them said they had been raped by a man who picked them up and drove them to Terminal Street. A fourth woman said she was attacked by a man while she was out jogging near Terminal Street. Some of the alleged victims said they had been threatened with weapons during the attacks.
“FBI agents were able to obtain various utensils and drinking glasses they watched the defendant use at a corporate event,” Assistant District Attorney Lynn Feigenbaum testifed. “From one of the glasses, the Boston Police Crime Lab was able to obtain a male DNA profile, which is found to match the suspect profile from the three Terminal Street rapes.”
Prosecutors offered a summary of each incident.
The first rape occurred Aug. 18, 2007, when a 23-year-old woman was looking for her car early in the morning after leaving a friend’s place near State Street when a man in his twenties she thought she recognized offered her a ride to help her look. After the two drove to Terminal Street, she said, the man told her to “shut up or he would kill her,” warned that he had a weapon, and then raped her on the grass near the railroad tracks.
The second rape occurred on Nov. 22, 2007, with another 23-year-old victim. This time, the woman involved was leaving a State Street bar after a high school reunion when she got into a vehicle she thought was a taxi or livery car and gave the driver the address of an ATM near her apartment. The driver, she said, drove past that address and when she complained, he brandished a “small knife” – and kept driving until they got to Terminal Street where he forced her out of the car, knocked her to the ground, and raped her, Feigenbaum said.
The third rape occurred on Aug. 5, 2008, when a 36-year-old woman who was panhandling got into a man’s car after he offered her money if she went to Charlestown with him. Then, the man drove her to Terminal Street, where he “tackled her to the ground,” held a gun to her back and raped her, the prosecutor said.
The fourth attack occurred on Dec. 23, 2008, when a 44-year-old woman was jogging near Terminal Street. A man came up from behind, tackled her, put his arm around her neck, and sexually assaulted her. The woman screamed and the man kept saying “I have a gun” but she fended him off by poking at his eyes with a hand – while she was wearing gloves, the paper reported, citing court documents.
Each of the three rape victims underwent sexual assault examinations which turned up a DNA profile that matched with Nilo, prosecutors allege. The fourth victim’s glove was tested and law enforcement “determined that this profile was 314 times more likely to belong to Matthew Nilo than to any other male in the population,” a police affidavit obtained by The Boston Globe alleges.
That court document explains that Nilo was arrested in a joint police-FBI sting when he and his fiancée were tricked into entering their apartment’s lobby by a message that “a large package had been delivered to him that did not fit in the … lockers where the residents pick up packages.” The defendant waived extradition in the Garden State two days later and was then transported to Massachusetts.
During the bail hearing, Nilo’s fiancée, Laura Griffin, was reportedly “expressionless” while she watched and held onto the liturgical object made of beads, the Globe reported. According to both the paper and WCVB, Griffin had nothing to say when approached by reporters.
Defense attorney Joseph Cataldo, however, spoke at length about his client’s constitutional rights and criticized law enforcement.
“I do understand that the procedures used by law enforcement are somewhat suspect,” he told WCVB. “It seems that they obtained DNA evidence without ever obtaining a search warrant. If that turns out to be true, that’s an issue that will be pursued vigorously.”
Cataldo previously represented Michelle Carter, a Bay State woman who, when she was a teenager, convinced her then-boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself. Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017. She was subsequently released early from prison, after serving 11 months of a 15-month sentence – after a failed appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. At the time, the attorney warned about the constitutional implications of Carter’s conviction.
Similar concerns were leveled after Monday’s hearing.
“My educated guess is there are no search warrants,” Cataldo told the Globe. “Obtaining DNA and analyzing it without a warrant based on probable cause, I posit that is unconstitutional.”
Bail was set at $500,000 and Nilo was ordered to wear a GPS tracker if he can afford to post that amount and get out of jail. The judge overseeing the case also ruled that the defendant must have no contact with any of his alleged victims and must stay away from Terminal Street unless he is accompanied by his attorney.
His next court date is slated for July 12.
A trial date was also set for June 25, 2024.
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