July 26, 2021 13:57

Criminal defense attorney charged with raping two women

BOSTON — A longtime Boston criminal defense attorney who briefly worked as a prosecutor will remain held on a new rape charge while awaiting a hearing, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. Moreover, the defendant was once named as one of People magazine’s most eligible bachelors.

Gary Zerola, 49, who appeared in the magazine’s 2001 list of “America’s Top 50 Bachelors” alongside the likes of actors Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, as well as professional athletes, Nomar Garciaparra and Tiger Woods, was arraigned on Jan. 15 on charges of rape and breaking and entering with felony intent, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said.

Prosecutors said Zerola, who was already out on bail on previous rape allegations, met a woman at a gathering on Jan. 11 and later accompanied her and a mutual acquaintance to her Boston apartment, the Boston Globe reported.

Zerola then allegedly returned to the woman’s apartment, where she awoke to the attorney sexually assaulting her early on Jan. 12, according to prosecutors.

Consequently, he was ordered to remain in custody during a dangerousness hearing Thursday, New York Post reported.

Rollins said the accusations against Zerola — who previously worked as an assistant district attorney in Essex County for one year and Suffolk County for two months in 2000 — were “deeply troubling” and noted the incident allegedly took place as he faced previous rape allegations.

Zerola had been free on $10,000 bail for allegedly raping another woman in 2016. He has pleaded not guilty in the Suffolk County Superior Court case, the Globe reported.

Prosecutors said two additional women have since claimed Zerola also raped them in the 1990s and he’s been acquitted in separate rape and attempted rape cases in Massachusetts. A prior sex assault case against him was also dropped in Florida, according to the Globe.

“The court agreed with our position that Mr. Zerola is a danger to the community,” Rollins said in a statement. “He has a history of rape allegations dating back to 1996.”

A not guilty plea was entered on Zerola’s behalf during his arraignment last week. His attorney declined to comment Thursday, the Globe reported.

In 2001, Zerola, then 29, was featured in People magazine as a lawyer and foster care advocate who set up his own law practice following nearly two years as a Massachusetts prosecutor. He noted his challenging childhood in an interview, saying he lived in more than 12 foster homes from age 3 through 15.

“Statistically speaking, I should be in debt or in jail because of the upbringing I had,” Zerola told People.

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