Editor's note: The following release was distributed today by the Attorney General's office, announcing the conviction of Jason Nickerson on four counts of sexual assault and one count of of assault with a dangerous weapon against a 16-year-old girl. Nickerson was indicted on these charges in June of 2011:
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced today that a Providence County Superior Court jury found Jason Nickerson, 31 with a last known address of 24 Roberts St., Woonsocket, guilty of four counts of sexual assault and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon related to a June 2007 rape of a 16-year-old girl.
The jury returned the verdict in 7 ½ hours after a 10-day trial presided over by Superior Court Associate Justice Judith Savage.
During the trial, the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that on June 30, 2007, Nickerson forcibly raped a 16 year old girl after she accepted a ride from him.
At approximately 12:30 a.m., as the victim was walking home from a friend’s house, the defendant drove up alongside her and offered her a ride. Once inside the vehicle, Nickerson drove the girl to a parking lot and sexually assaulted her multiple times before finally allowing her to leave.
The victim, badly beaten, was picked up by a good Samaritan who called for help. She was later treated at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, where a rape kit was performed and DNA samples taken. Results showed an unknown single male donor DNA profile along with the DNA profile of the victim. The unknown male profile donor was entered into the CODIS database in 2007.
The investigation remained unsolved until January 2011 when Providence Police received a report from the Rhode Island Department of Health indicating that the unknown single male donor profile matched that of Jason Nickerson, whose DNA was taken and entered into the database after pleading guilty to and sentenced for an unrelated felony.
With the new information, Providence Police contacted the victim, who identified Nickerson as her attacker.
"DNA has become one of the most reliable pieces of evidence in criminal investigations and prosecutions. Not only does it provide the opportunity for more efficient investigations, it also provides for more effective investigations by assisting in cold cases, such as this one," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
"DNA evidence, however, is meaningless without good old-fashioned police work and a victim who persevered through four years and many difficult times. I commend the Providence Police for continuing to pursue this case even when there were no leads. It is the efforts of the Providence Police and the strength of the victim that brought this violent rapist to justice.”
Attorney General Kilmartin also noted the strength of the victim to come forward, identify her attacker and not be afraid to share her story. “April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is ‘It’s Time to Talk About It,” a public campaign to bring awareness of sexual violence. Many victims have a difficult time talking about sexual abuse; most never report the crime. The strength of this young woman has been remarkable.”
“It is important to know that resources exist for victims of sexual assault, whether the crimes against them are reported to the police or not. Day One, whose mission is to reduce the prevalence of sexual abuse and violence and to support and advocate for those affected by it, provides services to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and other violent crimes and is staffed with advocates 24/7,” concluded Attorney General Kilmartin.
Providence Police Detective John Muriel led the investigation. Special Assistant Attorney General Shannon Signore prosecuted the case for the Office of Attorney General.