Billerica Man Guilty of Domestic Rape, Assault
Sun Staff Report
LOWELL -- A 41-year-old Billerica man has been found guilty of a litany of domestic-violence charges, including aggravated rape and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
He was also acquitted of other charges.
Robert Gardner was found guilty of eight of the 14 charges against him by a Lowell Superior Court jury on Thursday.
Those charges are: aggravated rape, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, assault and battery causing serious bodily injury, two counts of assault and battery of a household or family member, stalking, and violating a restraining order in connection with four assaults that took place in Lowell and Tewksbury and phone calls made by Gardner to the victim this year.
Gardner was acquitted on a different count of aggravated rape, witness intimidation, two counts of assault to rape, and rape. The animal cruelty charge was dismissed.
Judge Robert Ullman has scheduled sentencing for Dec. 18.
“The defendant in this case demonstrated the all too common pattern of subjecting the victim to escalating verbal, emotional and sexual abuse over several years. Domestic violence is, at its core, about the type of power and control that this defendant was exercising,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said in a statement.
“Domestic violence is a major public safety and public health issue impacting one out of three women in their lifetime,” she added. “It is critical that we continue to be committed to assisting victims of domestic violence through providing access to resources and guiding them through the criminal justice system as appropriate.”
In June 2015, Lowell police responded to a report of domestic assault at Bridge Street and Fourth Street in Lowell. Officers found the victim with a large bump on the right side of her head after Gardner struck her with an unknown object.
The victim was transported to an area hospital, and was treated for a concussion and a skull fracture, which caused bleeding into the brain. She had to undergo emergency cranial surgery.
Police issued an arrest warrant for Gardner, who could not be located.
A month later, Tewksbury police responded to a report of a domestic disturbance at Motel 6 in Tewksbury. Police found the same victim with visible injuries covering her face and body.
The victim stated that Gardner had held her against her will, and physically and sexually assaulted her in the motel room. Gardner then fled.
Warrants were issued for his arrest. Both Lowell and Tewksbury police worked in conjunction with the Massachusetts State Police and the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, and began a manhunt.
During that time, an investigation began into the circumstances of the relationship between the parties. It was determined that there had been prior assaults in 2011, where Gardner broke the victim’s back by striking her with a chair. Also, in 2014, Gardner broke the victim’s nose.
It was also determined that Gardner had violated one of the restraining orders the victim had obtained against him.
The Massachusetts State Police, New Jersey State Police, New York State Police and the U.S. Marshals collaborated in returning Gardner to Massachusetts from New Jersey in September 2015.
He was then arraigned in Lowell District Court where he was ordered held without bail. While incarcerated, Gardner repeatedly communicated with the victim in the effort to get her to not testify against him.