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'Superthief' faces trial in 1976 rape of Boca Raton babysitter

John MacLean, now 71, once published book about East Coast burglary spree

Jack MacLean, who once wrote a book called "Secrets of a Superthief," is on trial in the 1976 rape of a 15-year-old babysitter in Boca Raton.
Jack MacLean, who once wrote a book called "Secrets of a Superthief," is on trial in the 1976 rape of a 15-year-old babysitter in Boca Raton. (Book cover courtesy Berkley Trade/Amazon)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of a man accused in a rape in Boca Raton in 1976.

John MacLean, now 71, was arrested by Boca Raton police in 2012 on two counts of armed sexual battery.

According to a Boca Raton police report, MacLean raped a 15-year-old girl who was babysitting two younger children on Oct. 16, 1976.

The case remained unsolved for more than 35 years until Detective Mynor Cruz submitted a DNA sample from the evidence gathered at the crime scene for analysis. In September 2012, a sample of the victim's semen-stained jeans and a vaginal swab from a hospital rape kit after a Boca Raton rape case from 1977 matched MacLean's DNA, police said.

MacLean, who lived in Pompano Beach at the time of his arrest, has a lengthy criminal history throughout South Florida dating to 1979, including arrests on robbery, burglary and sexual assault charges.

He was convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor in Maricopa County, Arizona, in 1992 and forced to register as a sex offender. This led to his DNA profile being stored in the FBI's federal database.

Police linked MacLean to thousands of burglaries throughout the East Coast in the 1970s, including, most notably, the mansion of the Johnson & Johnson heiress in 1979. He was convicted of that crime, in addition to other burglaries, and sentenced to 15 years in state prison.

The boastful cat burglar wrote a book called "Secrets of a Superthief," published in 1983, in which he bragged about his exploits that fetched him more than $100 million in jewels and cash over a six-year period.

MacLean also faces trial for the Feb. 28, 1977, rape of a Boca Raton woman while her two children were in the home.