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Man accused of kidnapping Pepperell girl pleads innocent


By Lisa Redmond


AYER — An 18-year-old autistic Georgetown man accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old Pepperell girl for a “romantic relationship” has pleaded innocent to 19 counts of violation of a restraining order and one count of harassment in Massachusetts — as well as other charges in New Hampshire.

In Ayer District Court on Nov. 3, attorney Christopher Lilly, who represents Justin Rossi, requested a further pretrial date of Dec. 8, noting that he is waiting for documents from New Hampshire officials.

Rossi has been released on personal recognizance and told to stay away from the 13-year-old girl after pleading innocent to 19 counts of violation of an abuse-prevention order and violation of an harassment-prevention order.

Pepperell police say Rossi contacted the girl 19 times by e-mail between Aug. 19 and Aug. 25 after the girl’s mother obtained a 14-day restraining order against Rossi on Aug. 12 that was later vacated and replaced by an harassment order.

The girl’s mother went to court to keep Rossi away from her daughter after the two were in a rollover accident in Nashua on Aug. 10. The accident in Nashua caused no injuries but led to the mother learning the two were talking. She obtained a protective order to keep Rossi away from her daughter due to the difference in age.

The girl met while Rossi while she was spending time at the Murphy and Dwyer Academy in Chelmsford, where Rossi is a student. The girl’s grandmother runs the school for children with Asperger’s syndrome, high-functioning autism, nonverbal learning disabilities and traumatic brain injuries.

Defense attorney Timothy Bush, who represents Rossi in the New Hampshire case, said his client suffers from moderate to severe autism.

Pepperell police began searching for the girl on Sept. 3 after her mother reported her missing and the girl was seen carrying a suitcase accompanied by Rossi on Cross Street. Police eventually found the pair in Hudson, N.H., three days later.

In New Hampshire, Rossi has pleaded innocent to kidnapping, assault, resisting arrest and violating a protective order. That case is pending.