SALEM, Mass.--A 32-year-old man was convicted yesterday of raping his estranged wife, and of burglary while committing an assault.
James Chretien of Lawrence, Mass., faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the rape conviction and a minimum mandatory sentence of ten years in prison for the burglary charge.
Essex Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Morse Jr., has scheduled sentencing for Monday.
The trial was the first of its kind in Massachusetts this century. In a similar trial last century, the defendant was acquitted.
Chretien was charged with two counts of rape and two counts of entering his wife's house last February. He was acquitted on one charge of rape and burglary.
At the time of the incident the couple had been granted divorce, but the final decree had not been issued.
Chretien his wife and their nine-year-old son had testified at the trial. Chretien said he entered his wife's house because he heard screams, but he denied having intercourse with her.
District Attorney Kevin Burke called the decision a boon for battered wives.
"It is clearly a precedent-setting verdict for Massachusetts and for victims of abuse," Burke said. "I think it indicates that if victims of sexual abuse come forward, they can be protected by the law. No class of individual is exempt from the law if they cause other people to be abused," he said.
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