Indian American Rajat Sharda, the first Indian / desi officer in the history of the Worcester, MA, Police Department, was sentenced to 5-to-7 years in prison on Monday, June 8, after being found guilty of rape
Sharda kept his head down and maintained he was innocent of rape, apparently fighting back emotions.
A Worcester Superior Court jury found Sharda guilty last week of sexually assaulting a woman in August 2013 after he found the woman and a man having sex in vehicle. The woman testified that Sharda inappropriately touched her and masturbated in front of her while in full police uniform.
“I don’t agree with the decision. I don’t agree with the verdict,” Defense Attorney Ettenberg said. “My client is innocent.”
The jury found Sharda guilty of rape, larceny under $250, witness intimidation and open and gross lewdness. Judge David Ricciardone sentenced Sharda to the prison sentence for the rape charge and 10 years of probation for the other charges.
“He had a badge. He had a gun,” Assistant District Attorney Ryan Donahue said before the judge issued his ruling. “His actions are frankly disgusting.”
Donahue argued for a higher sentence, stating that Sharda violated the public’s trust and abused his power as an officer.
Defense attorney Peter Ettenberg argued to have any jail time imposed by the judge be suspended with probation. Ettenberg said he is filing an appeal in his client’s case.
A father of a 1-year-old boy, Sharda is a religious man who serves meals to the homeless and is part of an extremely close-knit family, Ettenberg said. Sending Sharda to jail would be torture, the defense lawyer argued.
Sharda was part of a police recruit class that was laid off due to the fiscal downfall, but eventually he was brought back in late-2011.