Salon Owner Raped Student

Jury convicts About Hair proprietor; a second alleged victim comes forward

The former owner of a Cambridge hair salon was convicted yesterday of raping a former Harvard undergraduate and sentenced to seven to 10 years in prison, a Middlesex district attorney spokesman said. Duncan W. Purdy, who ran About Hair, a salon and antique shop on Arrow Street, was found guilty of raping the 19-year-old woman in his store in March 2004, District Attorney Gerry Leone’s office said in a statement. The woman had come to the salon for a scheduled massage with Purdy, but was raped during the course of the massage, according to a statement released by the district attorney. The victim approached police after learning of Purdy’s 2005 arrest for allegedly running a prostitution operation, the statement said. In February, Purdy was convicted of running a prostitution ring out of his salon and was sentenced to two years in prison and given a $5,000 fine. Purdy, 53, is currently in jail and will serve his new sentence immediately after his current prostitution sentence ends. “This defendant has exhibited a pattern of abusing vulnerable young women and this is now the second such crime that he has been convicted of this year,” Leone said in a statement. “I commend the victim’s courage to come forward to law enforcement and then explain to a jury what had happened to her.” After he purchased the Arrow Street storefront almost two decades ago, Purdy diversified his business interests. The store has hosted a prostitution ring, a hair salon, a massage parlor, and an art gallery—featuring Purdy’s original paintings and nude art photos. It now remains vacant. Another Harvard undergraduate, Kathleen E. Hale ’09, testified Tuesday in Middlesex Superior Court that Purdy raped her on her first day at Harvard in September 2005. Like the victim who filed charges against Purdy, Hale said she was raped during a massage appointment. After Hale injured her back while moving furniture, she and her mother stumbled upon About Hair while looking for a masseuse. An employee said there were no massage therapists available, but Purdy said he could fit her in, according to Hale. “When I went back [for the appointment], I was alone in the basement of an empty store with him, my mother was on a plane, and no one knew where I was,” Hale said. Hale came forward after hearing of Purdy’s 2005 arrest on prostitution charges. She decided not to press charges, believing that it would take a substantial amount of time for the case to be heard and that a successful prosecution would be difficult with little physical evidence. But the district attorney’s office encouraged Hale to testify in the case brought by the 19-year-old undergraduate, Hale said, “It was a lot easier to push forward with this despite all the setbacks knowing that I was not just doing this for myself,” Hale said. —Anna L. Tong contributed to the reporting of this story. —Staff writer Aditi Balakrishna can be reached at balakris@fas.harvard.edu.

Tags