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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Police: Mom prostituted child for drugs

By Jill Harmacinski and Julie Manganis

Staff writers

SALEM -- A Beverly mother is facing charges that she prostituted her 9-year-old daughter in exchange for cocaine, after police showed up at a Salem apartment Monday night looking for child pornography and found a man abusing the girl.

In a case a prosecutor said "speaks to the most horrific things you can imagine," Mary Jean Armstrong, 35, of 9 Mill St., is accused of allowing two Salem men to sexually abuse her daughter. Armstrong is now facing multiple felony counts of inducing a child to prostitution, disseminating obscene material involving a child, and indecent assault and battery on a child. She is also charged with forcible child rape, because police believe she is responsible for the crime even though she did not physically assault her daughter.

Richard Lapham, 37, is also facing multiple counts of forcible child rape, as well as disseminating obscene materials, posing or exhibiting a child in a state of nudity, indecent assault and battery, and possession of cocaine and marijuana.

Late yesterday, detectives arrested another Salem man in connection with the sexual abuse case. Robert L'Italien, 36, of 17 Forest Ave., first floor, was charged with rape of a child. Police said L'Italien is a friend of Lapham's and that on at least one occasion, he raped the young girl with Armstrong's knowledge.

Armstrong, Lapham and L'Italien could face life in prison if convicted.

Police began investigating last weekend after an informant turned over a photo of Lapham and the girl engaged in a sexual act.

Monday night, detectives obtained a search warrant for Lapham's apartment at 5 Lussier St., near Salem State College. When they showed up to conduct their search, "Lapham was in the process of raping this child as detectives knocked on the door," according to a report written by Detective Lt. Thomas Griffin.

Inside the third-floor apartment, Lapham was in his underwear and the girl was lying naked on a couch. A pornographic movie was playing on a television, police said in their report.

Armstrong, meanwhile, was across the room, using cocaine, police said. Confronted by the detectives, Armstrong allegedly told them she was getting the girl ready for a bath.

Months of abuse

But police believe that numerous times over the past year, Armstrong brought the girl to Lapham's apartment, where he raped and took pornographic photos of the young girl. According to court papers the incidents started last January.

Further charges may be pending in the case and the investigation remains open, Detective Sgt. Stephen Bona said yesterday.

Armstrong's son, a 13-year-old boy with autism, was also in the apartment Monday night, but it is unclear to police whether he was abused.

The girl was taken to North Shore Children's Hospital for treatment Monday night, detectives said. She and her brother will be in the custody of the Department of Social Services indefinitely. Bona, a lead investigator, said DSS will get immediate counseling for the girl.

Both Armstrong and Lapham pleaded not guilty yesterday in Salem District Court.

Lapham covered his face with a suit jacket provided by his court-appointed attorney yesterday as he appeared in court. Armstrong also tried to shield her face, at one point quietly asking a court officer, "Can I have something, too?"

First Assistant District Attorney John Dawley filed motions seeking to have both held without bail as a danger to the community and to the girl. A hearing on that request was scheduled for next Tuesday. Meanwhile, both will remain in custody, Armstrong at the state's prison for women in Framingham and Lapham at Middleton Jail.

Because lawyers for both Armstrong and Lapham agreed not to contest whether Dawley had probable cause to file the dangerousness motion, Judge Dennis Healey shut off the prosecutor as he tried to offer details of the case in court.

Lawyers for both Armstrong and Lapham acknowledged that the charges against their clients were serious.

After the hearing, Armstrong's lawyer, Emery Haskell, described his client as upset.

Ben McGowan, a lawyer appointed to represent Lapham yesterday, said, "It's entirely too early for anyone to start making assumptions about what did or did not happen. He's only just been charged, and we expect the facts to come to light at trial."

L'Italien, who was arrested late Tuesday afternoon, will be arraigned in Salem District Court today.

'Very alarming'

"It's a very disturbing case," said Bona, who led the investigation with Detective Thomas Brennan. "It's affected all of us. Anyone with kids is affected by something like this."'

Prosecutor Dawley echoed that, saying, "The facts, when they come out, are very disturbing, very alarming. It speaks to the most horrific things you can imagine."

Staff writer Jill Harmacinski can be reached at (978) 338-2652 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Staff writer Julie Manganis can be reached at (978) 338-2521 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Subscribing Member
185 Posts
WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What kind of sicko mother would do that to their own child?????
Cases like this are why we need capitol punishment in this state!!!!!!! That little girl is going to be messed up when she grows up. She will never be able to have a normal life. OMG!!!! I am so mad right now this whole thing just makes me sick.
Sorry for my rant ,SH*T like this just gets my blood boiling.

Chapter 90 Enforcer
3,299 Posts
Yesterday morning WBZ Radio also reported that this lady was not only pimping her 9 y/o Daughter but also pimping her 13 y/o son..


Subscribing Member
1,209 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You know RPD, these are the times I really have to give alot of respect(more than normal) to the arresting officers. Dunno, if I was the officer I dont think I would make it to the jail house. Heck I dont even think I would make it past the first dumpster I saw and felt the need to empty my duty belt of a few clips. :x :evil:

You know in nam' my dad in between TOD was transporting a guy that was court marshalled and proven guilty of molesting little girls and boys off base. They were transporting him to a jail. The guy was talking about "the good feeling he had" and about how "how they screamed for momma". That was it.............. my father stopped the vehicle in corn field, he took his colt and his partner took his M-16's. My dad dragged this guy out uncuffed him and told him he had a 5 second head start to run, if they missed he was free.....that if he was shot, he was killed "escapeing". Fing coward crawled back in the car and wet him self. :twisted: Good job dad.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Girl abused up to 50 times, police say

By Julie Manganis

Staff writer

SALEM -- A 9-year-old Beverly girl was abused as many as 50 times over the past year in a litter-strewn, third-floor Salem apartment where cocaine residue covered a coffee table. And on a number of occasions, it took place in front of a videocamera, a prosecutor said yesterday.

More details about the horrific sexual abuse of the girl, who police say was prostituted by her own mother in exchange for drugs, emerged yesterday during the arraignment of a third suspect in the case.

Robert L'Italien, 36, of 17 Forest Ave., pleaded not guilty to a single count of forcible child rape at his arraignment yesterday in Salem District Court, where he was ordered held without bail.

The girl's mother, Mary Jean Armstrong, 35, of 9 Mill St., Beverly, has been charged with multiple counts of child rape and inducing a child into prostitution -- sex acts she allegedly allowed at least two men to perform with her daughter in exchange for cocaine for herself. Richard Lapham, 37, of 5 Lussier St., Salem, has been charged with raping the child on multiple occasions, and with other related offenses.

Both entered pleas of not guilty when they appeared in court on Tuesday, and are being held without bail.

All three defendants will be back in court next Tuesday for a dangerousness hearing.

A prosecutor yesterday offered more details about the case as he argued for L'Italien to remain in custody.

"This young girl had been engaged by her mother, as many as 50 times over the past year," prosecutor John Dawley told a judge yesterday.

He said that there was apparently a long-standing arrangement between Lapham and Armstrong: Armstrong would show up with the girl and exchange sex for cocaine, then make the girl available as well, not only to Lapham but to others.

Among the others was L'Italien, who, during questioning, incriminated himself in at least one incident, Dawley said. He stopped short of saying that L'Italien had confessed, however.

Police believe that Lapham videotaped and photographed many of the incidents. During their search police found videotapes that they are now going through.

Police are now looking at other potential suspects whose images appear on those videos, Dawley said, and are following up on tips that have been coming in since the case became public Tuesday.

Defense lawyer Michael Hickey said he was not in a position yesterday to oppose the filing of a motion to hold a dangerousness hearing, and added that L'Italien "may benefit from a full hearing."

Dawley told Judge Robert Cornetta that police officers who showed up to execute a search warrant on Monday were confronted by a grim scene.

In fact, the prosecutor said outside of court, the investigators working on the case have found it upsetting. He called it a "horrific experience" even for the police who came upon the scene, "finding this little girl in the state she was in."

Police said in their report that the girl and Lapham were lying on a couch -- the girl naked, Lapham in his underwear -- watching a pornographic movie. Dawley added yesterday that the girl's underwear was in the living room, her clothing in the bathroom. And her mother, according to police, was using cocaine across the room.

Arrested for stalking

Lapham, a Salem native, has been in trouble before. He was among the very first people in Massachusetts to be charged under a 1992 anti-stalking law, after he continually harassed a Peabody woman for more than a year, according to court records.

In 1992, Lapham repeatedly called the woman, making explicit threats to rape her. The calls were eventually traced back to Lapham's Lussier Street home, which is owned by his father.

Even after police told him to stop, the calls continued, and in December, he was arrested on charges of threatening to commit rape, making annoying calls and stalking. After initially being held without bail, he appealed, was released on bail, and within weeks had called the woman again, leading to another arrest and new charges.

As part of a plea agreement the following spring, the stalking charge was dismissed, and he was sentenced to serve 14 days of a two-year jail term.

Documents sealed

Prosecutors, concerned that some people might be able to identify the girl by her relationship to Armstrong, also made efforts yesterday to prevent more identifying details about the victim from becoming public. They asked Cornetta to seal court papers, including affidavits filed in support of a search warrant, as well as details about what was found in the apartment.

Cornetta agreed to the request temporarily, but noted that he would allow the release of documents after they had been "expunged" of names and other identifying details.

Staff writer Julie Manganis can be reached at (978) 338-2521 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Posted Thu 05 Aug, 2004 16:45:

Young girl to be blanketed with support

By Jill Harmacinski

Staff writer

SALEM -- The young Beverly girl at the center of a "horrific" child prostitution case has been placed in a home that specializes in the care of children who have been traumatized and sexually abused.

The 9-year-old girl will remain there indefinitely, where she will be blanketed with "love, support and therapy," according to Denise Monteiro, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Social Services.

"We want to help her work through this and get her back to being a little girl again," Monteiro said.

The girl's 13-year-old brother was placed in a separate group home for autistic children, but DSS workers hope to reunite the two eventually in a foster home.

The children's mother, Mary Jean Armstrong, 35, of 9 Mill St. in Beverly, was charged with prostituting her daughter in exchange for cocaine as many as 50 times over the past year. Police have charged two Salem men, Richard Lapham, 37, and Robert L'Italien, 36, with raping and photographing the child, and may charge others before their investigation is complete.

The case has shaken everyone, from veteran police officers to longtime social workers.

"This is one of the most horrific cases we've come across in a long time," Monteiro said.

Monteiro described her co-workers as hard-core staffers who have dealt with many children and a variety of difficult issues. "These are, 'don't take your stuff home from work' people,'" she said. "This has hit their core. ... That's how devastating this has become."

The young girl and her brother were taken into DSS custody late Monday night after police raided Lapham's Salem apartment. Both children were in the apartment, but police do not believe the 13-year-old boy was abused. DSS has placed the boy in a specialized group home for children with autism and other developmental disorders.

"That's the best place for him to be," Monteiro said.

While the brother and sister are separated for now, Monteiro said social workers will arrange for them to visit one another often. Until they can be reunited, she said the two will have "constant contact."

Monteiro said the brother and sister were placed "where they'll receive a lot of love and a lot of attention."

Counselors will work intensively with the children, underscoring "that nothing that happened is their fault," she said. "That nothing these kids did was wrong."

'Children do cope'

Jack Simons, a Salem psychologist who has worked with sexual abuse victims for 20 years, said there's no way to tell how such horrific abuse might affect a child.

Studies suggest sexual abuse can lead to anxiety, depression, anger, withdrawal and self-destructive behavior, said Simons, of Children's Friend and Family Services. Many times children who are abused have difficulty trusting others, he noted.

But some abuse victims don't exhibit any obvious symptoms and appear to thrive in school settings.

"School is considered a safe haven where they can be normal," he explained.

He said sexual abuse victims can go on to lead good, productive lives with the right combination of support and therapy.

"Children do cope with these things," he said. Regardless of what's happened to them, he said children have strengths of their own and can draw on them to recover.

"They may be smart, funny, talented or have good social skills," he said. "And there may be other adults who they've turned to ... and used as alternate role models, such as a coach, a friend or a relative."

He urged people who want to help the young girl to consider becoming a mentor to a child in need.

"There are many volunteer opportunities," he said. "We and other organizations are always looking for adults to be a good friend to a child."

Staff writer Julie Manganis contributed to this report.

Staff writer Jill Harmacinski can be reached at (978) 338-2652 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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308 Posts
I am sure a nice fate awaits all these scumbags when they arrive at their prison location. I usually dont wish other human beings a horrible painful lonely death, but in the case of these pieces of whale feces I think I can make an exception.
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