Former Freetown-Lakeville substitute teacher sentenced to 30-40 years in state prison for rape

Apr 10, 2024

A 58-year-old former substitute teacher in the Freetown-Lakeville school system was sentenced to serve 30 to 40 years in state prison after being convicted on charges connected to the rape and molestation of a 14-year-old girl, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn III announced.

Gilbert Hernandez was found guilty by a jury Monday April 8 of five counts of rape of a child-aggravated by more than a 10 year age difference, two counts of rape of a child by force, four counts of indecent assault and battery, and two counts of dissemination of obscene matter to a child.

At sentencing Wednesday, April 10 at Fall River Superior Court, Judge Raffi Yessayan ordered Hernandez to serve 30 to 40 years in state prison, to be followed by 10 years of supervised probation.

Hernandez knew the victim through a close friendship she had with his son, along with his role as a substitute teacher in the Freetown-Lakeville schools and as a religion education teacher at a church in Freetown, according to information provided by Quinn’s office.

The reported rapes and molestations all occurred between February and July 2018 in the towns of Lakeville, Freetown, Raynham and Taunton, according to Quinn’s office.

During the sentencing hearing, the victim in the case told the court how her childhood was stripped from her and how the defendant’s manipulations led her to lose many friendships, Quinn said.  

She also spoke about the impact the repeated abuse has had on her, detailing for the court how she has frequent nightmares and often wakes up to vomit from post-traumatic stress disorder flashbacks.

“I want to thank the jury for holding the defendant accountable for the egregious and depraved conduct committed against a young girl. The evidence against the defendant was overwhelming and the state prison sentence clearly warranted,’’ Quinn said in a prepared statement. 

“The defendant took advantage of the relationship between the two families. He was able to obtain her trust, which allowed him to have repeated access to her, resulting in multiple acts of rape and sexual abuse,” Quinn said. “It is particularly galling that the defendant was her religious education instructor and a substitute teacher at her school. Despite the trauma caused by the defendant’s abuse, I hope the victim can move forward with her life.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Silvia Rudman and Danielle Pixley.