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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bellingham man convicted of rape is freed


Sean Dwyer is a free man -- for now.

Dwyer, 26, of Bellingham was released from the state prison in Norfolk Monday after serving nearly three years of a four- to six-year sentence for allegedly raping a cousin when he was a teen.

The state Supreme Judicial Court ruled Dec. 29 that Dwyer didn't get a fair trial in January 2004 because his attorney wasn't given access to the alleged victim's counseling records, which contained information that could have helped his case.

Another cousin, Fred Lomberto, was also convicted of raping the same girl in a separate trial. He remains in prison.

The Norfolk County district attorney's office has said it's deciding whether to retry Dwyer.

Dwyer's attorney on the appeal, Carlene Pennell, said the SJC decision is shaking up the state's judicial system because it lowers the threshold for defense attorneys seeking victims' counseling records.

Advocates for victims say it's unfair to allow easier access to the records.

-- Alison O'Leary Murray

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