Suspect arraigned in attempted-rape case enflaming Somerville group home fears
“The actions this defendant are accused of are alarming,” Ryan said after a hearing at Middlesex County Superior Court. “This was a frightening attack by a stranger. Luckily, alert passers-by intervened and were able to put an end to the attack.”
At about 5:30 p.m., Oct. 8, a woman was attacked as she was going to her vehicle in the parking lot of Temple B’Nai Brith on Central Street in Somerville,just off Broadway in the Winter Hill neighborhood, police said. An Oct. 10 report in the Somerville Journal by Dan Atkinson and Danielle McLean offered more details:
The man, later identified as Harmon, reportedly said “I know you” to the woman, who said “No you don’t,” and continued walking to her car.
Harmon reportedly then chased the woman and shoved her from behind onto the pavement, forcing himself on top of her and banging her head repeatedly on the concrete. When the woman tried to scream for help, he reportedly choked her with both hands before taking one hand away to cover her mouth. Harmon then sexually assaulted the woman, according to reports.
People nearby heard screams and ran to the woman’s aid, police said, leading the defendant to run back to his home, where he was identified and arrested. Harmon was charged with assault to rape, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and indecent assault and battery.
Complicating the case is that Harmon’s home – only a tenth of a mile down Central Street – is a group home meant to transition people with psychiatric conditions back to community living. This home, run by the Cambridge-based nonprofit Vinfen, has drawn complaints from neighbors for years, the Somerville Patch reported in November.
A state official apologized to a crowd of more than 100 people for not responding adequately to those complaints and fears, Erica Jones wrote in Patch, but the crowd was skeptical the state or Vinfen would really do better and be able to satisfy their concerns.
“This type of event is an anomaly in Somerville, but its rarity in no way lessens our concern,” Somerville Police Chief David Fallon said. “We will remain vigilant in ensuring the safety of this neighborhood and our city, [and] the Somerville Police Department continues to monitor this case as it goes forward.”
“Our thoughts remain with the victim and anyone affected by this grave event,” Fallon said. He invited people affected to reach out to the Police Department’s victims advocate at (617) 625-1600, Ext. 7279.
Clerk Magistrate Michael Sullivan ordered Harmon held without bail until Harmon’s next scheduled court hearing April 16.