The Boston man accused of kidnapping a young woman and raping her over several days in 2019 has been sentenced to prison.
Victor Pena, 42, will spend the next 29-39 years behind bars for the kidnapping and rape of Olivia Ambrose, who was rescued from Pena’s home three days after she went missing according to ABC Boston affiliate WCVB.
After a six-day trial and just two hours of deliberations, a jury found Pena guilty on Tuesday of one count of kidnapping and 10 counts of aggravated rape for forcing the then-23-year-old to drink liquor and repeatedly raping her, telling they were going to start a family.
“The rapes occurred in every possible way that a victim can be raped, as defined by law,” the judge said in Monday’s hearing. “All while being held hostage by you under lock and key.”
Pena was not in Suffolk County Superior Court for Monday’s sentencing; After a series of outbursts, he was restricted to viewing proceedings from a separate room.
Ambrose attended and delivered an emotional impact statement, published in its entirety by local Boston outlet WHDH.
“There are no words to describe how this has impacted me. How am I supposed to articulate something that has completely turned my world upside down?” Ambrose stated, in part. “When I think about how this affected me, I think about how I never fully came back from those days. A part of me died in that apartment, and I mourn for the life I could have lived — was supposed to live.”
Ambrose was out with her twin sister for a night on the town with other friends on Jan. 19, 2019, when, intoxicated, she became separated from her group after leaving Hennessy’s Bar in Boston and disappeared, prompting a three-day search by local authorities.
Boston Police examined surveillance footage on which she appeared to be led away from the area of the bar, and announced it was “obvious” that Ambrose had not gone with the defendant willingly.
Witnesses reported seeing Pena getting onto the subway supporting an extremely intoxicated Ambrose, before they exited not far from his apartment. Further footage captured Pena carrying Ambrose into his residence.
Pena proffered as a defense that Ambrose went with him of her own accord.
“We started to have nice chemistry,” Pena testified, according to WCVB. “I said I have an apartment, I have housing, and then, ‘Let’s go to your apartment,’ she said.”
Ambrose claimed she had no recollection of how she wound up at Pena’s Charlestown apartment, just that she woke up on Pena’s bare mattress.
“When she tried to get dressed and leave, Pena physically stopped her, told her to be quiet, and threatened several times to kill her,” court documents stated. “He said he rescued her on the street, he loved her and they were going to start a family.”
For the next three days, Pena repeatedly raped her and only allowed her to eat canned pineapple and drink whiskey. He also took numerous selfies of the two in an alleged attempt to portray them as a happy couple.
A forensic specialist later found more than 300 photos — several of them explicit — during a search of Pena’s phone, according to the ABC affiliate.
Police said they found a “horrified” Ambrose during a raid of Pena’s apartment, at which point he was arrested.
Pena had to be significantly restrained by arresting officers, and later court appearances only added to existing questions about his mental health. Court-appointed psychologists reported that Pena sucked his thumb, spoke to himself, claimed he heard voices and said he wasn’t quite sure why he was in court.
Those same psychologists, however, found it entirely plausible that Pena was deliberately exaggerating his mental health problems. Ultimately, doctors found that Pena “did not meet the criteria” of having an underlying psychotic or mood disorder, according to WHDH.
Pena twice tried to seek release pending trial earlier this year, first in January due to the COVID-19 pandemic and again in February for allegedly having tumors.
Following multiple courtroom outbursts, the judge ruled that Pena would only be allowed to view legal proceedings through a monitor in a separate room, according to WCVB.
Then, during jury seating, Pena appeared naked on the courtroom monitor before committing a “lewd act” that lasted about 16 seconds before the live feed was terminated and the jury excused.
Prosecutor Ian Polumbaum called Pena the “most deliberately difficult defendant this building has ever seen,” according to WCVB.
Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden praised Ambrose for her willingness to speak against her attacker during the trial.
“It was the survivor in this case who truly rose to the challenge,” Hayden stated. “Most of us go through life never having to experience an ordeal of terror like this young woman experiences at the hands of Victor Pena. When the path to justice required her to recount those awful moments, she proved equal to the task.”