Home Assault and Battery Trial of Mattapan Lyft driver charged with raping Berklee student passed out in his car in 2019 begins

Trial of Mattapan Lyft driver charged with raping Berklee student passed out in his car in 2019 begins

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For one Berklee music student, a summer night out in 2019 was supposed to be for taking in the season finale of The Bachelorette — but it ended with the woman waking in a Lyft far from home after the sun had risen and feeling she had been raped.

The driver of that Lyft, Joseph Piard, 26, of Mattapan, appeared in Suffolk Superior Court Thursday for the first day of his trial. Piard faces two counts of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14.

Prosecutor Erin Murphy laid out a case that Piard took advantage of a young woman who was so drunk that she passed out in the backseat of Piard’s compact Mitsubishi sedan on her ride home. Piard then drove her far from her Back Bay apartment to the area around his own home in Mattapan where, Murphy said, he raped her in two manners and also grabbed onto her breast.

As the alleged victim recalled on the stand — though she said that much of the night was “super fuzzy because I was so drunk” — by the time she woke from the ride between two addresses in Back Bay that “should just be a minute,” the sun had risen and “it was morning.”

She said she felt “shocked, confused. I don’t know how to explain how it feels to wake up in a stranger’s car, drunk still.”

It is Herald policy to not name victims or alleged victims of sexual assaults.

Piard explained in an interview with Boston Police Detective Jesse Goff that he allowed the woman to remain passed out in his backseat for roughly 5 hours overnight for her own safety. After he failed to wake her up to drop her off, he said, he feared reporting her to the police because she might get in trouble with her college. So he sat with her as she slept until she woke up.

“DNA testing told a different story,” Murphy said. A vaginal swab from a rape kit, she said, matched DNA samples Piard voluntarily provided. “When confronted with that information, the defendant admitted he did it.”

Defense attorney Robert Fox, in his opening argument, said that he’ll provide evidence that the woman was not all that drunk, and that the woman started to touch Piard and asked to hang out, in which the two began to make out and then had consensual sex. He also said that Piard was under a lot of pressure to confess in his third interview with police.

The woman didn’t look toward Piard the entire time she was in court, and her only reference to him was “that guy over there” at one point. But her feelings were overt when Fox questioned her over wanting to make “some money off of this” in her civil suits against Lyft and Piard.

“Well, I can’t kill him and it’s the closest thing I can do,” the alleged rape victim said.

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