PELHAM — A former Pelham man charged with multiple counts of rape was released from a Massachusetts jail after a Superior Court judge ruled that an officer had no legal basis to stop his car on the night he was arrested.
Kenneth Poirier, 40, formerly of Gaudette Lane in Pelham, is charged with four counts of rape, kidnapping, and indecent assault and battery. Police were now unsure of his whereabouts following his release from jail, according to Lt. James Jajuga, Jr., of the Methuen (Mass.) Police Department.
Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark said the Pelham police had no interaction Poirier while he was living in town.
“We don't have any involvement with that case or with Mr. Poirier,” Roark said.
Poirier allegedly raped two different women in separate incidents on May 23, 2010, and Oct. 10, 2010, in Methuen, Mass. He was arrested Oct. 7, 2010, on an unrelated charge, according to police.
A Superior Court judge in Salem, Mass., ruled this week that the traffic stop resulting in Poirier's arrest had no legitimate basis and evidence seized must be suppressed along with observations made by the officer and any statements made by Poirier, according to court documents.
Officer Neil Quinlan was on patrol Oct. 7, 2010 when he noticed Poirier's red, two-door Grand Am drive past him toward a dead-end street, according to court documents. It was raining heavily and the road was in an industrial/commercial area. The car passed him again a few minutes later. The officer did not see any violations but ran the license plate number on the computer in his cruiser, records said. The vehicle was registered to Poirier's mother.
Quinlan stopped the car to see why it was in the area at a time when businesses were closed. Poirier was driving and a woman was in the passenger's seat, records said. During the stop it was discovered that Poirier had an outstanding warrant and he was placed under arrest.
In his summary, Judge Timothy Feeley wrote that a police officer may stop a vehicle if he has reasonable suspicion the occupants have committed, are committing, of are about to commit a crime.
“The facts known to him, which included no observation of any traffic/motor vehicle violations, do not even rise to the level of a hunch,” Feeley wrote.
Police are working with the district attorney to see what effect the decision has on the case, and if new charges can be filed, Jajuga said. The investigation is continuing, he said.
“We will be working with the District Attorney and continuing to pursue all legal avenues to resolve this,” Jajuga said.
The sexual assault charges stem from two separate incidents.
On May 23, 2010, Poirier allegedly got a woman into his car in Lawrence, Mass., showed a firearm, drove to an area near Pleasant Valley Street in Methuen, Mass., and raped her, according to police.
In the second incident, on Oct. 10, 2010, Poirier allegedly took a woman from the area of Lowell and Pelham Streets in Methuen and sexually assaulted her. The woman told police that she was unable to get out of the car because the interior door handle on the passenger side was removed.