Dorchester lodging house could be shut over rape cases

The Boston Licensing Board decides Thursday whether to shut Mac's Guest House, 194 Callender St., after hearing a BPD detective recite a litany of complaints dating back years - including two active rape investigations in which police cited Mac's for "permitting immoral conduct" and failing to call police.

At a hearing yesterday, District B-3 Lt. Det. Brian Larkin acknowledged that owner Lorenzo Clark has made a series of changes at Mac's at the request of police and residents - including a decision to stop renting rooms by the hour - but said nothing has worked to stem a tide of prostitution and gun- and drug-related crimes in and around Mac's.

"There's a lot of stuff that goes on there that shouldn't," Larkin told the board.

"You can't blame me for everything that happens in Dorchester," Clark retorted. He said in addition to requiring guests to pay for overnight stays, he has installed a series of surveillance videos around his property and meets regularly with neighbors. "Everything they ask me to do, I do 100%."

Clark said he's been the victim of a new breed of guests, people he doesn't know who are now staying in Mac's. "I cannot discriminate and I can't say you can't come," he said.

Larkin said police and neighbors are tired of excuses. Over the past three years, he said, police have responded to 24 incidents at Mac's itself and have made scores of arrests outside the property (see Police: Milton couple take cab to Dorchester guest house, then rob the cab driver).

The two specific incidents that landed Clark before the licensing board were alleged rapes in August and July.

On Aug. 19, Larkin said, a man raped and kidnapped a female guest at Mac's. He said after the rape, the man got her to check out as if nothing were happening by threatening to shoot her in the head. He then forced her into a car and drove her to Cambridge - where she managed to escape - he said.

Clark said he remembered the woman checking out and said she did not appear under any duress at all. He said the first he knew of a problem was when police showed up later - and that he gave them photos and surveillance video. "How much more can I do?" he asked. "I don't have cameras in the rooms."

Larkin said that in the July incident, a woman says she was raped by a man and that Clark offered her $100 not to go to police.

Clark disputed that. He said the two appeared to be girlfriend and boyfriend, that the woman was homeless and that after an argument, the man left - with one of the two cell phones the woman had bought the day before. He said he offered the woman $100 to make up for the lost cell phone, not as hush money. He added he didn't call police himself because at one point he saw the woman on the other phone talking to somebody - and he assumed it was the police.

Both cases remain under investigation, Larkin said.

The board decides Thursday whether to revoke or suspend Mac's license.

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    Comments

    "'I cannot discriminate and I

    "'I cannot discriminate and I can't say you can't come,' he said."

    Um, yes you can. If it's not a prohibited type of discrimination (race, age, etc), a landlord certainly can refuse to rent to someone.

    That's why well-run buildings have interviews, background checks, and references.

    If "Mac" had changed his policies a long time ago,

    maybe he wouldn't be under investigation and possibly having his license to operate a guest house pulled/revoked.

    This is exactly the kind of thing that resulted as recently as the 1960's and 1970's in many of the city's public housing projects as a consequence of inadequate screening practices and whatnot. Too bad that a guest house or rooming house had to end up turning into a flop-house under investigation in order to make the public aware of this stuff.

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