Woman testifies in 1976 babysitter rape trial

A woman testified Wednesday about the night she was raped 42 years ago while babysitting in Boca Raton.

John MacLean, 71, is on trial for the 1976 rape of a 15-year-old girl.

MacLean was arrested by Boca Raton police in 2012 on two counts of armed sexual battery.

According to a police report, MacLean raped the teenager who was babysitting two younger children on Oct. 16, 1976.

The girl told police she was watching television when she heard a knock on the door. At first, she just thought it was the kids, so she ignored it, but when she heard the knocking again, she looked outside the window and didn’t see anyone. When she turned around, she was confronted by a man armed with a gun and wearing pantyhose over his face.

“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you,” the intruder told the girl, according to the report. “Just don’t scream and nobody will get hurt.”

The masked man walked her out to the patio, told her he wanted to see her naked, pulled down his pants and told her to hold his penis. He then took her back inside the house, put her on a bed, spread her legs apart and raped her.

After he was done, he took some cream from a drawer and applied it to the girl’s vagina.

The case remained unsolved for more than 35 years until Detective Mynor Cruz submitted a DNA sample from the evidence gathered at the crime scene for analysis. In September 2012, a sample of the victim’s semen-stained jeans and a vaginal swab from a hospital rape kit after a Boca Raton rape case from 1977 matched MacLean’s DNA, police said.

More than four decades later, the now-adult victim was forced to face her alleged attacker in court as she recalled the ordeal. She said she couldn’t see the man’s pantyhose-distorted face, but prosecutors pointed to the DNA evidence as proof that MacLean was the man responsible.

However, one of MacLean’s attorneys called the DNA evidence unreliable.

“What they bring you is one small piece of denim and a piece of denim with a broken chain of custody,” defense attorney Christopher Fox-Lent told the jury.

MacLean, who lived in Pompano Beach at the time of his arrest, has a lengthy criminal history throughout South Florida dating to 1979, including arrests on robbery, burglary and sexual assault charges.

He was convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor in Maricopa County, Arizona, in 1992 and forced to register as a sex offender. This led to his DNA profile being stored in the FBI’s federal database.

Police linked MacLean to thousands of burglaries throughout the East Coast in the 1970s, including, most notably, the mansion of the Johnson & Johnson heiress in 1979. He was convicted of that crime, in addition to other burglaries, and sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

The boastful cat burglar wrote a book called “Secrets of a Superthief,” published in 1983, in which he bragged about his exploits that fetched him more than $100 million in jewels and cash over a six-year period.

MacLean also faces trial for the Feb. 28, 1977, rape of a Boca Raton woman while her two children were in the home.

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Son of former South Florida judge accused of head-butting father

The son of a former South Florida judge is accused of head-butting his 69-year-old father during an altercation at the home they share.

Daniel Wennet, 32, was arrested Tuesday on charges of battery on a person 65 or older and obstructing justice.

According to a Palm Beach Gardens police report, Richard Wennet went to his neighbor’s home Tuesday morning and asked to call police. He was bleeding from the head.

Richard Wennet told police that his son, who has mental health issues, had been distraught and “was making comments to him that he wanted to kill him and himself,” the report said.

When Richard Wennet tried to call police, his son wrestled the phone away, threw it to the ground, bit his father’s arm and head-butted him, the report said.

During an interview with police, Daniel Wennet claimed his father forces him to use drugs and had physically and sexually abused him, but he refused to answer any questions.

“He continued to say numerous things, and most did not make sense,” the report said.

The officer said Daniel Wennet was taken to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center to be treated for self-inflicted cuts to his face. He was then booked into the main Palm Beach County jail.

Richard Wennet was a longtime Palm Beach County circuit court judge who narrowly lost his seat in 2008.

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‘Superthief’ faces trial in 1976 Boca Raton babysitter rape

Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of a man accused in a 1976 rape in Boca Raton.

John MacLean, now 71, was arrested by Boca Raton police in 2012 on two counts of armed sexual battery.

According to a Boca Raton police report, MacLean raped a 15-year-old girl who was babysitting two younger children on Oct. 16, 1976.

The case remained unsolved for more than 35 years until Detective Mynor Cruz submitted a DNA sample from the evidence gathered at the crime scene for analysis. In September 2012, a sample of the victim’s semen-stained jeans and a vaginal swab from a hospital rape kit involving another Boca Raton rape case from 1977 matched MacLean’s DNA, police said.

MacLean, who lived in Pompano Beach at the time of his arrest, has a lengthy criminal history throughout South Florida dating to 1979, including arrests on robbery, burglary and sexual assault charges.

He was convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor in Maricopa County, Arizona, in 1992 and forced to register as a sex offender. This led to his DNA profile being stored in the FBI’s federal database.

Police linked MacLean to thousands of burglaries throughout the East Coast in the 1970s, most notably among them the mansion of the Johnson & Johnson heiress in 1979. He was convicted of that crime, among other burglaries, and sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

The braggadocios cat burglar wrote a book called “Secrets of a Superthief,” published in 1983, in which he boasted about his exploits that fetched him more than $100 million in jewels and cash over a six-year period.

MacLean also faces trial for the Feb. 28, 1977, rape of a Boca Raton woman while her two children were in the home.

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South Florida lawyer sentenced for role in $23 million insurance fraud

A South Florida man has been sentenced to more than a year in prison for his role in a $23 million auto insurance fraud involving chiropractors’ clinics.

The SunSentinel reports Jason Dalley wept in court Monday as a judge sentenced him to spend a year and nine months in prison and pay more than $1.8 million in restitution.

Dalley, 55, of Boca Raton, admitted he was part of a group of clinic owners, chiropractors and attorneys involved in the scheme.

Court records show the fraud involving clinics in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties brought in at least $23 million from 10 insurance companies between 2010 and 2017.

Dalley ran a personal injury and criminal defense law firm in Delray Beach. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health care, mail and wire fraud.
 

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Finances of Parkland school shooting gunman examined at hearing

The financial assets available to Parkland school shooting gunman Nikolas Cruz that might allow him to hire a private lawyer were being examined Wednesday at a court hearing.

Cruz, 19, has been represented at taxpayer expense by a Broward County public defender since the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The hearing Wednesday will look into whether Cruz could instead pay for his own defense.

Officials said in March that he had at least $37,000 from a variety of sources, including an insurance policy naming him as a beneficiary following his mother’s death in November.

Cruz’s lawyers had said there may be more available and promised to research exactly how much. His mother’s estate could be worth nearly $1 million. 

During Wednesday’s hearing, defense attorney Melisa McNeil told Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer that there are multiple lawsuits that have been filed against Cruz and his mother’s estate, but Cruz is not seeking to keep any of the money he might be entitled to.

“Whatever money he’s entitled to, he does not want that money,” McNeil said. “He would like that money donated to an organization that the victims’ families believe would be able to facilitate healing in our community, or an opportunity to educate our community about the issues that have ripened over the (past two months).”

Cruz was previously declared indigent. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

 

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Parkland school shooter’s brother back in court to challenge bond amount

The brother of the Parkland school shooter is scheduled to be in court Thursday while his attorneys seek to persuade a judge to reconsider the $500,000 bond amount for his trespassing charge.

Attorneys for Zachary Cruz are expected to argue Thursday that the bond amount is excessive. His bond was originally $25, which is typical for such a charge.

The 18-year-old brother of Nikolas Cruz was arrested March 19 after Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies found him skateboarding at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He had previously been told not to be on the campus.

Zachary Cruz is the younger brother of Nikolas Cruz, who confessed to killing 14 students and three employees at the school on Valentine’s Day.

A Broward County judge raised Zachary Cruz’s bond to $500,000 after prosecutor Sarahnell Murphy argued that he had been to the campus multiple times and had disturbing conversations with his brother — conversations discussing how “popular” his brother now was, how his face is well-known across the country and discussing the possibility of starting a fan club for Nikolas Cruz.

Murphy said Zachary Cruz also has a criminal history from 2016 for charges of grand theft, petty theft and criminal mischief. 

Judge Kim Theresa Mollica ordered that Zachary Cruz be placed on house arrest with a GPS monitor if he posts bond. She also ordered that he stay at least a mile away from the school, not return to Broward County unless it’s for a court appearance or to speak with his attorneys, stay at least 500 feet away from any school or child-care facility and not have any direct or indirect contact with his brother.

A recent search of Zachary Cruz’s home found no weapons. He also underwent a psychiatric evaluation.

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