Salem man charged with sexually assaulting intellectually disabled people

A 64-year-old Salem man was held on $1,000 cash bail after his arraignment on charges that he sexually assaulted two intellectually disabled women he drove as part of his employment with a private transportation company, authorities said.

Robert T. Buckley was arraigned in Chelsea District Court today on four counts of indecent assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability and a single count of intimidation of a witness, Suffolk County prosecutors said.

A not-guilty plea was entered on Buckley’s behalf. He is slated to return to court Jan. 3, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley’s office said.

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The two victims were in their 20s. They were assaulted between Nov. 8 and Nov. 13, during four rides from East Boston to Malden, Conley’s office said.

Buckley was arrested this morning by the State Police Disabled Persons Protection Unit and booked at the State Police barracks in Revere.

Troopers began an investigation several days ago, assisted by Suffolk prosecutors and the state Department of Developmental Services, State Police said.

“These victims were made vulnerable by a disability that this man allegedly exploited,” Conley said in a statement. “The charges are shocking and disturbing. Fortunately, there are a great many people who care for these victims. They come from law enforcement, social services, and clinical disciplines, but they are all committed to protecting these innocent victims from further harm.”

The van Buckley drove is owned by MassTran Transportation. The company has cameras installed in their vans, and video footage is reviewed as a routine practice, prosecutors said.

Buckley’s employers reviewed footage from the van Nov. 18. The footage showed Buckley trying to cover the camera with a baseball cap, but he only partially covered the lens, and could be seen assaulting one of the victims, prosecutors said.

Buckley was immediately terminated and his employers contacted the state’s Disabled Persons Protection Commission. The employers gave State Police memory cards with footage from the van, and three additional incidents were discovered, prosecutors said.

Buckley allegedly made incriminating statements to troopers this morning, including a statement that he told one of the victims not to disclose the assaults, prosecutors said.

Victims of sexual violence in Suffolk County can call the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center’s 24-hour hotline at 800-841-8371.