25 Investigates: Prosecutors didn't try to hold fugitive sex offender

by: Eric Rasmussen, Erin Smith Updated:

BOSTON - Prosecutors asked for a convicted child rapist to be set free on bail just days before detectives accused him of raping another little girl, 25 Investigates has uncovered.

Level 2 sex offender Joshua Corbett, 26, was arraigned Aug. 4 on charges of aggravated rape of a child with force, a subsequent offense of rape of a child with force, aggravated rape of a child with a 10-year age difference and intimidating a witness, according to Framingham court records.

But Investigative Reporter Eric Rasmussen discovered prosecutors missed an earlier chance to keep Corbett locked up and off the streets.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan’s office did not try to hold Corbett in jail after Framingham Police arrested him late last month on a separate case as a wanted fugitive from South Carolina.

In a fax to Framingham District Court, South Carolina authorities asked to “place a hold on this subject.” The July 31 fax came in several hours before Corbett’s arraignment.

But courtroom audio recordings obtained by 25 Investigates reveal prosecutors asked for $1,000 bail and electronic monitoring, but they did not follow through with South Carolina’s request to keep Corbett in jail.

A Middlesex County prosecutor told the judge, “It’s my understanding that, uh, they do want him. They do want to come get him. However, we’re not asking him to be held today.”

Corbett walked out of jail on just $750 bail and a GPS bracelet, according to court records.

Just three days later Framingham Police arrested him again on all new charges – this time for the forcible rape of a pre-teen girl.

Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan wouldn’t directly answer a question about whether her office dropped the ball in the case but told 25 Investigates Corbett would not have been sent back to South Carolina because of open cases in Massachusetts.

When asked why her office offered Corbett bail, Ryan said, “So, bail is set with a view toward a number of pieces of the particular case and that's something that, legally, I just can't talk about.”

Investigative Reporter Eric Rasmussen told Ryan, “I think people are going to see this guy, they see a three-page long rap sheet and know he's a convicted sex offender and wonder what other circumstances you're considering.”

Ryan said, “And those are facts and circumstances that will develop in court as the case unfolds, but I'm legally prohibited from talking about them while the case is open.”

25 Investigates uncovered that Corbett has been in and out of jail since 2009.

“How is he able to just walk free?,” asked Corbett’s ex-girlfriend, Jeanne DeNapoli, who told 25 Investigates she believes he is a danger to the community.

Corbett was convicted of the statutory rape of a 12-year-old girl in the woods in Ashland in 2011, but he served just 18 months behind bars.

He later served nine months in prison after a 2015 convicted for failure to register as a sex offender in Lynn.

DeNapoli said she was homeless when she met Corbett last year and moved with him to South Carolina.

Corbett tried to force DeNapoli into prostitution, according to a July 2016 report from the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina.

“The first time he hit me was June 23,” said DeNapoli. “He made me stand up against the wall and he hit me in my back. And he's like, ‘That's so when you're laying on your back getting me my drug money you remember you'd better come home with it.’”

Corbett was convicted of domestic violence in the South Carolina case in September 2016 and received 18 months on probation.

But he soon fled back to Massachusetts – without permission from South Carolina authorities.

In January, Natick Police arrested Corbett for failing to register as a sex offender. He later posted $500 bail in the case.
           
Corbett didn’t report a home address or that he landed a job at the Natick Mall. But 25 Investigates found a photo he posted on Facebook of him working at the mall with young people in the food court behind him.

A manager at C & C Market Research, the survey company where Corbett was hired, told 25 Investigates he was unaware Corbett is a sex offender.

Corbett is due back in court Thursday on the most recent case. He is now being held on $100,000 cash bail and charged with the rape of a child on July 15, but at least one of his former victims says it’s too little too late.

“I know for a fact he's done this to other people,” said DeNapoli. “And it's like, he's constantly let off.”

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