MERRIMAC - William S. Raia, the local man accused of raping a woman inside her Hillside Avenue home on July 3, was indicted by a Salem Superior Court grand jury on July 12, a week before his arrest, according to court records.
An Essex County District Attorney's Office spokesperson on Friday confirmed Raia's indictment came before his July 19 arrest. Indictments made before an arrest are typically, but not always, done in secret allowing police to arrest a suspect on the indictment warrant. The same spokesperson said a superior court arraignment date has not been scheduled yet.
In addition to four counts of aggravated rape, Raia was charged with home invasion, assault to rape, assault and battery on a person over 60 with serious injury, kidnapping and strangulation or suffocation.
Raia, 50, was arrested at his Merrimac Avenue home by Merrimac police on July 19 and arraigned the next day in Newburyport District Court.
At the arraignment, Essex County prosecutor Kate MacDougall said Raia — who lives within walking distance of the woman's home — slit a screen and entered her home through a window July 3 about 9 p.m.
Raia is charged with accosting the woman in her bedroom while holding a knife.
MacDougall said Raia beat, stabbed and attempted to strangle the woman and that over a two-hour period, he "raped her repeatedly."
At one point, the woman tried to use pepper spray on Raia, but he turned it on her and continued the assault.
When the woman had the chance, she ran from the house to a neighbor's home to call police.
Although Raia escaped that night, police tested DNA from a cigarette butt and other evidence at the home to link Raia to the rape.
A Merrimac police report detailing the assault was impounded by Doyle shortly after Raia's arrest, according to court records.
Raia is represented by attorney Brett Levy.