Florence man acquitted of child rape charges

Hampshire County Courthouse

Hampshire County Courthouse STAFF FILE PHOTO


Staff Writer

Published: 04-02-2024 12:48 PM

Modified: 04-02-2024 4:49 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A Florence man accused of child rape and related offenses was freed Tuesday after jurors acquitted him on all counts following a week-long trial in Hampshire Superior Court.

Scott Duseau, 52, was embraced outside court after the verdict by dozens of supporters and family members who had attended his trial throughout.

He had been free on $5,000 bail and conditions since his arrest in October 2022 on two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

“I’m very pleased for Scott and his family,” his attorney, David Mintz, said outside court. “His life has been upended by these charges. Since his arrest, he’s lived in a state of dread and stress.”

A Northampton native and licensed practical nurse, Duseau worked most recently as infection control specialist at Linda Manor Extended Care Facility in Leeds.

After receiving the case Monday afternoon. the jury of seven men and five women deliberated for less than five hours before reaching its verdict.

Mintz praised the jury for being consistently engaged during the trial.

“The jury never stopped paying attention. I think they came to the right decision,” he said.

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Assistant District Attorney Anne Yereniuk praised the alleged victim, a boy who was 5 or 6 at the time of the alleged offenses, for coming forward and testifying.

“The child told his story and exhibited bravery in that process,” she said.

The attorneys gave closing arguments Monday afternoon after several half-days of testimony from witnesses.

Mintz told the jury the only ones who know the truth are Duseau and the child.

“The government wants you to believe Scott Duseau is a monster,” Mintz said.

He said the defendant had been forthright on the stand about the times he had spent alone with the boy, who was a member of his household for several years.

Duseau was accused of committing the offenses at his home on different occasions between June 1, 2019, and April 5, 2021.

Mintz highlighted what he saw as inconsistencies between the boy’s testimony and that of his mother, who also took the stand.

Witnesses, including Duseau’s husband, Adam Holst, and friends Keri Purcell and Melissa Clapp, testified earlier that the boy had great affection for Duseau, and Duseau said his wish was to be a positive and stabilizing influence on the child.

“You never did anything sexually inappropriate with or to that child?” Mintz asked his client on the stand.

“No, I did not,” Duseau testified.

Yereniuk acknowledged that parts of Duseau’s relationship with the boy were positive, but she emphasized that he had “access and opportunity” to commit offenses.

She also cited apparent inconsistencies in the testimony of witnesses called by the defense, and said the boy had been consistent in his allegations.

Witnesses were asked about their memories of April 5, 2021, which was the first day of in-person school since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. All remembered the boy being “grumpy” when he got home off the school bus that afternoon, and more than one testified hearing him say “You’re gonna pay” when he was walking in the house.

Prior to closing arguments, Judge Edward McDonough gave the jury instructions on evidence, the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof and the concept of reasonable doubt.

“You will determine the facts on the evidence only,” he said.

After the jury foreman pronounced the verdicts of “not guilty” on all counts, McDonough thanked jurors for their service and told them it was clear they had taken their responsibility seriously.

James Pentland can be reached at jpentland@gazettenet.com.