‘A state of shock’: Woman testifies in rape trial against Boston attorney

It was “humiliating, at that moment. It’s hard to grasp what you’re feeling when it’s happening,” she said. “[I was in] a state of shock.”

The woman tested that, despite her protests, Zerola silently raped her, and did not stop until she got off the couch and went to wake her friend, who was casually seeing Zerola at the time. Still trying to process what happened, the woman said she told her friend she needed to leave for work, and “acted as normal as possible because there was nothing I could do at that moment.”

As Zerola drove her and her friend back to her car, she said she contemplated what to do but felt stuck.

“I was too scared,” she told the judges. “I’m not gonna call someone. Gary’s a well known lawyer in Boston, he made that very clear.”

The woman tested that she showed up at work that afternoon, and a few days later, went to the hospital to be examined and speak to the police.

Videos from the bar that night show Zerola and the victim’s face close together, with Zerola seeming to try to kiss the woman. The second video includes audio of the victim saying, “Ew, Gary.” The footage also shows her friend telling Zerola to stop trying to have sex with the victim.

Zerola’s attorney, Rosemary Scapicchio, interrogated the woman about several still images from that night, as well as other photographs that link her to Zerola, in a cross-examination that repeatedly escalated into a shouting match that had to be quelled by the judge.

One photo showed the woman kissing Zerola first on the cheek, then on the lips.

The woman acknowledged that the kisses must have happened, but said she does not remember those photos. She maintained that she would never have sex with Zerola, because he was already having sex with her friend.

Scapicchio pressed, asking the woman whether she lied to the police when she told them she had never been alone with Zerola before, pointing to a time when the woman rode with Zerola on the back of his motorcycle.

The woman insisted that although the motorcycle ride “was literally the last thing on my mind” when she first went to the police, she was later “very open about going on that motorcycle with him” and was otherwise never alone with him.

“When he would ask me to go get drinks, to go get pedicures. . . every time I would say no,” she said.

However, Scapicchio then asked the woman if she gave Zerola oral sex in his garage after the ride, to which she replied “I would never [expletive] do that.”

Pointing at Zerola, she added, “That is [expletive]and you know it!”

Tuesday’s testimony, which also included statements from a bartender working the night of the alleged rape, underscored the sharply contrasting opening statements.

Scapicchio called the woman “a liar” and described a woman whose story is filled with inconsistencies, who allegedly changed her version of events over time “not because she had an epiphany . . . not because she wanted to tell the truth, but because she was caught.”

Prosecutor Thomas Brant emphasized Zerola’s preexisting relationship to the victim, in contrast to stereotypes of spontaneous attacks by waiting predators.

“You will not hear about a stranger luring women into an alley. . . you will not hear shrieks into the night,” Brant told the jurors. “This was no stranger, but this was also no consent. There was never any consent whatsoever.”

Over the past three decades, as many as a dozen women have accused Zerola of raping them in nearly indistinguishable assaults, according to court records. However, Zerola has rarely faced criminal charges, and two separate juries found him not guilty of rape and attempted rape in 2008. He has had sexual assault charges dropped in Miami Beach and New Orleans, while the statute of limitations has expired on at least three Allegations from the 1990s, court filings show.

He is also charged with raping a then-21-year-old woman in 2020. In that case, which is pending, he is accused of returning to the woman’s apartment without permission and sexually assaulting her while she was passed out.

Zerola has been under house arrest in Salem. Under court orders, he is prohibited from having any female visitors — relatives and lawyers excluded — without clearance from probation.

His law license is active, records show.

Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

Ivy Scott can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @itsivyscott. Tonya Alanez can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @talanez.

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