NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — A New Bedford man has been charged in a decade-old rape case after the evidence was recently tested.
Dylan Ponte, 28, was indicted on two counts of rape and two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14, according to the office of Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III.
The DA’s office said a 16-year-old girl was given alcohol and was drinking with Ponte and others in the area of a middle school on the night of July 3, 2012. She told police she blacked out and woke up outside her friend’s house around 7 a.m. the next day.
When she woke up, she told police she had no underwear on and was bruised and in pain. She immediately went to St. Luke’s Hospital, where she submitted to a sex assault evidence collection kit – also known as a rape kit – according to the DA’s office. The kit was submitted to the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab but never tested for DNA.
It was among the more than 1,148 previously untested rape kits the DA’s office is now working to find and process, with help from a $3.3 million federal grant obtained in 2019.
The kit from the 2012 case was tested in May 2022 and the DNA evidence was linked to Ponte. The DA’s office said he was in the Combined DNA Index System due to being arrested multiple times in 2020 in Florida on domestic assault and battery and obstruction charges. As part of his plea in Florida, he agreed to submit his DNA.
Ponte appeared in court last week where a district judge found him to be a danger, but set bail at $1,000 cash with conditions. He is due back in court on Aug. 10.
The DA’s office said if the victim’s rape kit had been fully tested when it was submitted, this case would have been solved more than a year ago.
This is the second cold case rape the DA’s office has solved as part of the initiative.
“I am extremely pleased that our rape kit testing initiative has already resulted in two cold case rapes being solved from more than a decade ago,” Quinn said. “Both these cases demonstrate the importance of fully testing all sexual assault kits. If we did not obtain the grant to have all these kits fully tested, this case may never have been solved and the statute of limitations could have expired.”
The DA’s office said it hopes to have all untested rape kits fully processed by the end of the year.