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Former Athol man convicted of child rape

Could spend life in prison

GREENFIELD — A former Athol man was found guilty of two counts of forcible rape of a child this week in Greenfield Superior Court.

Joshua Matthews, 22, of Keene, N.H., will be sentenced in superior court today, after a week-long jury trial ended Wednesday. He faces a maximum penalty of life in state prison.

The jury determined there was sufficient evidence to convict Matthews of raping his parents’ foster child when the family lived in Athol.

The offenses he was convicted of occurred in 2007, after Matthews turned 17 and was considered an adult in the eyes of the state. At that time, the victim was 7. It continued until the victim was placed in another foster home later that year.

During the trial, which began April 6, the jury heard from the victim, and Matthews waived his Fifth Amendment right, taking the stand in his own defense.

Testimony from the victim took up nearly a full day in court, and provided graphic detail of a pattern of abuse, much of which occurred while Matthews’ parents were away from the house.

The victim’s testimony also told of threats of violence.

Matthews had originally been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon for an alleged knife threat, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, for allegations the victim made that Matthews had stabbed him with a dart.

Since there was no physical evidence of a knife or wounds from the darts, the jury found Matthews innocent on those two charges.

Though the offenses Matthews was convicted of occurred in 2007, they weren’t brought to the attention of authorities until three years later, after the victim had been taken in by another family.

Defense attorney Timothy Flynn asserted the boy had been sexually abused by a friend of his biological mother, and that he was transferring that experience to include Matthews.

The jury reached its verdict after eight hours.

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