Merrimac man ruled dangerous, held without bail on rape charges

DAVE ROGERS/Staff photoWilliam Raia, 50, of Merrimac stands in front of a court officer at Newburyport District Court during Raia’s arraignment Tuesday morning on multiple rape charges. 

NEWBURYPORT — A judge ruled that a Merrimac man charged with raping a 74-year-old woman is dangerous and ordered him held without bail Friday afternoon.

Judge Peter Doyle made the finding following a dangerousness hearing for William S. Raia, 50, in Newburyport District Court. The case is scheduled for a status hearing via Zoom on Aug. 19 at 10:30 a.m.

On Tuesday, Raia pleaded not guilty to four counts of aggravated rape, kidnapping, home invasion, strangulation, and assault and battery causing bodily injury on an elderly person.

At the arraignment, Essex County prosecutor Kate MacDougall said Raia — who lives within walking distance of the woman's home — slit a screen and entered her home through a window July 3 about 9 p.m. 

Raia is charged with accosting the woman in her bedroom while holding a knife.

MacDougall said Raia beat, stabbed and attempted to strangle the woman and that over a two-hour period, he "raped her repeatedly."

At one point, the woman tried to use pepper spray on Raia, but he turned it on her and continued the assault.

When the woman had the chance, she ran from the house to a neighbor's home to call police.

Although Raia escaped that night, police tested DNA from a cigarette butt and other evidence at the home to link Raia to the rape. 

A Merrimac police report detailing the assault was impounded by Doyle shortly after Raia's arrest, according to court records.

Raia is represented by attorney Brett Levy.

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