Suffolk Superior Court Judge Rosalind Miller last week sentenced Imer Soto, 33, of Dorchester, to nine to 10 years in state prison for rape and three years, of probation for kidnapping as well as completing sex offender treatment registering as a sex offender, District Attorney Rachael Rollins announced. SOTO was found guilty Feb. 5 of rape and kidnapping when he pulled a woman who had ordered a ride-share vehicle into the car he was riding in and raped her.
During the trial, the Commonwealth introduced evidence showing that after having drinks with friends at the Black Rose, a bar and restaurant Downtown, the victim and a friend ordered an Uber to take them home on the night of Feb. 8, 2016.
When a car stopped in front of the Black Rose, the victim, believing it to be her ride, opened a passenger door. Soto was sitting in the back seat and pulled her into the vehicle and the operator of the car drove off. During the ride, Soto raped her. The woman managed to escape from the car and called a friend. She went to Massachusetts General Hospital where a sexual assault evidence kit was collected. Soto was identified through DNA analysis.
“These attacks on woman who are doing nothing other than enjoying an evening with friends are evil and hateful,’’ said District Attorney Rachael Rollins. “There are simply too many cases where women are being targeted by men as they leave bars, nightclubs and restaurants at night.
“It may seem obvious, but I believe these women are being targeted because of their gender and I’m going to be working on making sure that gender is a protected category with respect to hate crimes, because I believe sexual violence is a form of hate crime.”
Rollins’s office has investigated and prosecuted numerous other cases in which women were targeted after enjoying a night in Boston, some by rideshare impostors.
In December, Alvin Campbell allegedly posed as an Uber driver and picked up a woman who was intoxicated after attending a holiday party at the Harp bar on Causeway Street in the North Station area. Campbell was later arrested and charged with rape and driving the victim to Rhode Island. She had ordered an Uber ride but the driver canceled at the last minute.
In January 2019, an intoxicated woman left Hennessey’s near City Hall and encountered Victor Pena, who is now charged with holding her captive in Charlestown apartment and raping her.
Other cases have involved sexual assaults by actual rideshare employees. Three Uber drivers – Ranjan Thapa, Michael Squadrito and Daudah Mayanja – all separately await trial on charges that they raped female customers in Boston while driving them home from bars in 2018 and 2019. Prosecutors said the assaults occurred in the Symphony area, in Dorchester, and along Storrow Drive.
In addition, Louis D. Coleman III is facing federal charges of kidnapping and causing the death of Jassy Correia, who left the Venu nightclub in the Theater District after closing time on Feb. 24, 2019. Coleman allegedly convinced Correia to get into his car. Her body was found in the trunk of the vehicle four days later in Delaware.
Soto was taken into custody after Wednesday’s verdict. The Commonwealth was represented by ADA Jillian Hira; the victim witness advocate is Anne Kelley-McCarthy. The defendant is represented by Attorney Jason Stelmack.
Sexual assault can happen to anyone. While the victims of any crime are asked to call 911 in an emergency, survivors of sexual violence can also call their local rape crisis center for free and confidential services and to discuss their options. Support is available for all survivors of sexual violence, regardless of whether they wish to take part in a criminal prosecution. Services by city and town can be found at www.janedoe.org/find_help/search.
In Suffolk County, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center offers a free and confidential 24-hour hotline at 800-841-8371. The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center provides medical accompaniment and many other free services to victims of rape and sexual assault. Suffolk victim-witness advocates can assist in referrals to BARCC and a wide array of non-profit service providers who can offer additional support and services.