LOWELL -- A former Dracut football all-star, 19, was ordered held without bail as a danger to society after prosecutors allege he wore a ski mask and followed four women from a Dracut gym, and sexually assaulted a woman outside her Lowell home.
At the conclusion of a two-day dangerousness hearing Tuesday, Lowell District Court Judge Michael Fabbri found there was enough evidence, albeit circumstantial, to hold Bryant Tuff as a danger to society on charges of assault with intent to rape and assault and battery.
Prosecutor Rachel Pearlman said Tuff is charged with assaulting a woman in her 20s outside her Ennell Street home in Lowell on Feb. 26, but he is a suspect, although not charged, with stalking three other women from the gym in Dracut.
Lowell Police Lt. Detective Thomas Hultgren testified there have been four reports from women of a man with dark curly hair and wearing dark clothing who focuses on women who have either left the gym or are near the gym. The incidents, Feb. 2, Feb. 25, Feb. 26, and March 5, usually occurred late at night.
In the March 5 incident, a gym employee saw a man sitting in a silver Toyota with a ski mask pulled down around his neck. The employee jotted down the license plate, which police say came back to a car rented by Tuff's grandmother.
In all alleged incidents, the man uses a car to follow the women to their destination, donning a dark ski mask, then approaches their cars after the women have parked. In three of the instances, the women locked their doors and called for help when the man approached their vehicles.
One of the stalker's victims identified Tuff from school, where he was a Division 2 Merrimack Valley Conference all-star in 2012. He was part of the crowd she hung around with in school.
One person was able to identify a car the stalker was driving as a silver Toyota, and a license plate which Hultgren testified was a car rented by Tuff's grandmother.
Prosecutor Rachel Perlman said Lowell police allege that on Feb. 26, a Lowell woman left a Dracut gym, drove to her house in Lowell, parked across the street, then sat in her car texting. The woman saw a man approach her car so she locked her doors.
After waiting a while, the woman got out of her car, heard a sound and a man, wearing a bandanna over half his face, knocked her down, pulled her pants and underwear down, then grabbed her ankles and tried to drag her across the street, Hultgren testified. She fought off her attacker by hitting him with her lunch bag and poking him in the eye, Hultgren said.
Tuff's probation officer told police that a week after the incident, Tuff came in for an appointment and his eyes were watering so much the probation officer asked Tuff about it.
When Tuff was arrested this week by Lowell police he was carrying a backpack with a black ski mask inside, boxing gloves, a couple of T-shirts, men's underwear, socks and toiletries.
But during the dangerousness hearing, four of Tuff's family members provided Tuff with an alibi, testifying he was at his grandmother's house in Lowell playing video games and smoking marijuana on the night the Lowell woman was attacked.
"Four different witnesses established an alibi for Mr. Tuff," defense attorney Robert Normandin argued in his closing.
Normandin argued the assailant, described as being tall with dreadlocks, doesn't match his client, who is 5 feet, 8 inches tall with short hair. The description of the cars used by he assailant also differs, he said.
"There is no probable cause that Bryant Tuff was involved," Normandin said.
The judge scheduled a probable-cause hearing for April 16.
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