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Attorney: Alleged rapist worked three jobs

Sturbridge Police Department/Courtesy Photo Francisco Wellington Barros-Gomes (click for larger version)

Francisco Wellington Barros-Gomes Sturbridge Police Department/Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
November 25, 2009
STURBRIDGE — A 26-year-old Charlton man is being held on bail today on charges of sexually assaulting a minor at JCPenney, one of three places where he worked, according to the attorney representing him court.

Francisco Wellington Barros-Gomes, of 81 J. Davis Road, Charlton, faces a charge of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, and another count of forcible rape of a child after police said he sexually assaulted a young boy in the dressing room of the Route 131 discount store last night.

Judge Neil Snider entered a not guilty plea on Gomes's behalf during his arraignment this morning at Dudley District Court. Snider set Gomes's bail at $25,000 cash and $250,000 surety bond, which the defendant's attorney said he could not post. Snider also ordered a public defender be assigned to him.

At his court attorney's request, Gomes was held behind a barrier, blocking him from view of spectators and the media. The attorney said her client has no prior criminal record.

Gomes is next scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 17.

Court records indicate Gomes has been in the country for 10 months. He is, according to Assistant District Attorney Shayne Picard, a Brazilian national and not a U.S. citizen.

Picard said Gomes was working at JCPenney at the time of the incident a little before 6 p.m. and allegedly committed the assault under the guise of helping the boy try on clothes. Gomes, he said, was working in the children's department when the boy's mother stepped away to make a phone call, Picard said. Gomes then offered to help the boy try on clothes in a dressing room, Picard said, and proceeded to touch his alleged victim in inappropriate places and have intercourse with him. Picard said Gomes admitted to the touching, but did not specifically deny or admit the rape.

Police responded to the incident and soon took Gomes into custody, according to a Sturbridge Police Department press release. He was held there overnight before the arraignment.

"Unfortunately," Lt. Alan Curboy said of the incident, "some people take advantage of these situations."

Curboy referred all questions to the District Attorney's Office, where spokesman Timothy Connolly declined to comment.

A manager at the Sturbridge JCPenney store also declined to comment and referred questions to a company spokesman, who did not return a phone call.

There was no response to a reporter's knock at Gomes's home around 1:40 p.m., but two Charlton Police Officers showed up at the home soon after. An unidentified person could be seen talking to one of the officers, but Officer Derek Gaylord, one of the two arriving officers, would not say what transpired and referred queries to Police Chief James A. Pervier.

The chief could not be reached for comment.

The incident shook up customers who were leaving JCPenney this afternoon.

"It definitely makes me think twice about going back," said 25-year-old Sturbridge resident Ryan Taylor as he stepped out of the store. "That definitely shocks me wasn't expecting to hear that especially [at] JCPenney."

An East Brookfield woman who was heading into the store do some Christmas shopping said the company is not to blame.

"I just think that people should keep better track of their kids," Cathy Laprad said. "[If her adult children were still young] I wouldn't bring my kids Christmas shopping [at the store]."

The days events revealed some details of Gomes' life. His attorney said he lives with his mother, and has no children.

A neighbor, however, said Gomes lived with his wife.

The man, who declined to give his name, spoke positively about Gomes, but said he does not know him very well.

"He is a very nice guy," he said, adding, "Anybody in the neighborhood who has small children should be careful. I feel sorry for the family. I assume he will get help."

In addition to JCPenney, Gomes's court attorney said he works at two other places, which she did not name, but said were not clothing stores.

Ryan Grannan-Doll can be reached by phone at (508) 909-4050, or by e-mail rgrand@stonebridgepress.com.

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