Hockey Coach Accused of Child Rape Set for Release Ahead of Trial

The Essex County district attorney argues "the law must be changed" to protect children from predators

A youth hockey coach awaiting trial for child rape charges is expected to be released on bail when he meets certain conditions due to rulings by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in two unrelated cases.

Thirty-three-year-old Christopher Prew of Marblehead is accused of sexually assaulting eight boys under the age of 14 from 2017 to early 2018. He had been held without bail since a court appearance in March of 2018.

The Essex County District Attorney's Office said Thursday that Prew would be released on $15,000 cash bail pending verification of set conditions.

Prew can no longer be held without bail due to Supreme Judicial Court rulings in favor of Carlos Viera, an officer with the Lawrence Police Department accused of raping a 13-year-old boy he met on the Grindr app, and David Barnes, a Newton man who allegedly brought a 15-year-old girl to an Amesbury hotel for sex, prosecutors said.

The rulings mean people charged in child rape cases in which physical force was not used or threatened cannot be denied bail.

"As District Attorney, it is my duty to protect the public. That duty drastically is impeded if the law does not allow my Office to seek pre-trial detention in the dangerousness statute against individuals who rape and sexually assault children," DA Jonathan Blodgett said in a statement. "There is no other victim more vulnerable than a child. The law must be changed so that we may protect them from predators."

In October, after the court ruling on Viera, Blodgett pushed for lawmakers to fix what he called a dangerous loophole, according to The Eagle Tribune.

"I am asking the Legislature, again, to enact Governor [Charlie] Baker's re-file, 'An Act to Protect the Commonwealth from Dangerous Persons,' immediately to close this gap in the law," he said Thursday.

Prew, a private hockey coach and owner of Hot Shot Academy, is charged with one count of rape of a child aggravated by age difference, 14 counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and a count of attempted indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.

The victims in the case range in age from 7 to 13.

As a condition for Prew's bail, he must live with a family member other than his mother and stepfather in a home where no firearms or children are present. Prew's mother has been charged with intimidating a witness in his case.

Prew must also surrender himself to a warrant in Vermont, where he is charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. He may not leave Massachusetts except to appear in court in the Vermont case.

Other bail conditions include that Prew must stay out of Marblehead, have no unsupervised contact with children under 16, avoid jobs working with any children, submit to a curfew between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and surrender his passport and his right to possess a firearm.

If probation verifies those conditions, Prew will be free on bail.

Prew has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. His trial is set for May of 2020 after a delay this summer.

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