AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – UMass Amherst has obtained the legal documents of a man who refused to admit guilt for alleged raping and beating his elderly neighbor in Leominster, he died in 2020 while serving a life sentence.

The Papers of Benjamin LaGuer will be open to the public from Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives Research Center that include the trial transcript, police reports, forensics, court filings, judicial decisions, and legal correspondences, along with extensive press coverage of each phase of LaGuer’s battles.

LaGuer was born in the Bronx in 1963, then moved in with his father in Leominster after serving in the US Army in 1983. LaGuer was arrested for raping and beating his elderly neighbor in Leominster. He maintained his innocence and was convicted in 1984 by an all-white jury. He was sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after fifteen years. LaGuer was denied parole several times because he refused to admit guilt and passed away from liver cancer on November 4, 2020, at the age of 57, alone in a prison hospital.

According to UMass Amherst, the LaGuer Papers provide a unique and valuable resource for understanding the history of social justice and for building tools to effect positive change. The collection captures some of the complexities at the intersection of race, justice, media, and politics in Massachusetts and the United States. They also tell a story about higher education behind bars. LaGuer earned most of his credits toward a bachelor’s degree as a UMass student.

“Bringing Ben’s papers to the Libraries reflects our commitment to preserving the voices of people whose stories aren’t typically reflected in the historical record,” says Aaron Rubinstein, head of the Robert S. Cox Center. “Opening these materials to students, scholars and the general public will continue the important conversation about race and the justice system in this country.”