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Woman testifies against 'Superthief' in 1976 babysitter rape trial

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

John MacLean, who wrote a book called "Secrets of a Superthief," sits in a Palm Beach County courtroom during his rape trial.
John MacLean, who wrote a book called "Secrets of a Superthief," sits in a Palm Beach County courtroom during his rape trial. (WPBF)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A woman testified Wednesday about the night she was raped 42 years ago while babysitting in Boca Raton.

John MacLean, 71, is on trial for the 1976 rape of a 15-year-old girl.

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

According to a police report, MacLean raped the teenager, who was babysitting two younger children, on Oct. 16, 1976.

The girl told police she was watching television when she heard a knock on the door. At first, she just thought it was the kids, so she ignored it, but when she heard the knocking again, she looked outside the window and didn't see anyone. When she turned around, she was confronted by a man armed with a gun and wearing pantyhose over his face.

"Don't worry, I won't hurt you," the intruder told the girl, according to the report. "Just don't scream and nobody will get hurt."

The masked man walked her out to the patio, told her he wanted to see her naked, pulled down his pants and told her to hold his penis. He then took her back inside the house, put her on a bed, spread her legs apart and raped her.

After he was done, he took some cream from a drawer and applied it to the girl's vagina.

The case remained dormant 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.

More than four decades later, the now-adult victim faced MacLean in court as she recalled the ordeal. She said she couldn't see the man's pantyhose-distorted face, but prosecutors pointed to the DNA evidence as proof that MacLean was the man responsible.

However, one of MacLean's attorneys called the DNA evidence unreliable.

"What they bring you is one small piece of denim and a piece of denim with a broken chain of custody," defense attorney Christopher Fox-Lent told the jury.

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.

MacLean 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.

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