August 29, 2014

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Two UMass basketball alums to compete for a lofty prize in The Basketball Tournament -

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Commencement Photos 2014 -

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Four Pittsfield teens charged with raping UMass student

Michelle Alcott/Collegian

Michelle Alcott/Collegian

Four Pittsfield teens have been arrested and charged with raping an 18-year-old female University of Massachusetts student in her on-campus dormitory, University officials said.

The alleged perpetrators, none of whom are UMass students, have been identified as Emmanuel Bile, 18, Justin King, 18, Adam Liccardi, 18, and Caleb Womack, 17. The incident occurred during the early hours of Oct. 13, and the men were arrested in Pittsfield last Friday.

All four were arrested on three counts of rape, with Liccardi receiving an additional charge. They have pled not guilty to all counts.

At their arraignment yesterday afternoon, Eastern Hampshire District Court Judge Mary Hurley set the alleged perpetrators’ bail at $10,000 cash and ordered GPS monitoring. The defendants were also each ordered to follow an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, submit to weekly random drug and alcohol screenings, and must comply with an active restraining order prohibiting them from being within 100 yards of the alleged victim. The suspects are also barred from entering Great Barrington, New Marlborough and Amherst.

Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suhl, who represented the alleged victim, initially asked the court to set three of the defendants’ bails at $2,500, with GPS monitoring for Bile, King and Liccardi. Suhl asked that a $10,000 bail be issued for Womack, whose family is in the process of moving to Windsor Locks, Conn., making GPS monitoring not a feasible option, according to Suhl. The increased bail was an attempt by Suhl to compensate for the impossibility of GPS monitoring in Womack’s “unique position.”

But Hurley rejected Suhl’s proposal before arguments about whether or not any of the defendants posed a flight risk began.

“Never in my time on the bench have I heard such an egregious recounting of facts,” Hurley said.

She continued, “There is no way I will be part of an agreement of this sort. It’s just not going to happen.”

The incident occurred in the alleged victim’s residence hall room, officials said. The specific dormitory and the alleged victim’s collegiate year were not identified by the UMass Police Department or University officials.

Press Conference on Alleged Raping of UMass Student from Daily Collegian on Vimeo Video by Emily Felder and Taylor C. Snow.

At the arraignment, Suhl said that on Friday, Oct. 12, the four men, who are said to have been known to the alleged victim, texted the alleged victim requesting to visit her at UMass. At that point, the alleged victim told them she did not want them to come.

Despite her request, the alleged perpetrators came to the University, texting her once more to try to ask her for permission to visit. Her phone had died, so she did not receive the text message. Three of the four men were signed into the residence hall by a stranger, Suhl said. How the fourth man entered the building is still being investigated, according to UMass Police Chief John Horvath.

The suspects then went to the alleged victim’s room and waited for her to arrive, Suhl said.

When she later found them in her room, she was initially “OK” with socializing with them, according to Suhl.

The defense attorneys cited the police and said that the alleged victim said she had consumed eight to nine shots of alcohol, a couple of beers and had smoked marijuana by that point in the evening.

The prosecutor said that one of the men turned off the lights and the men then stripped the alleged victim before raping her repeatedly. Liccardi stayed in the dorm room after the other three had left and raped the alleged victim again, Suhl said.

Bile texted the alleged victim the next morning looking for Liccardi, the prosecutor said. She responded to the text saying the men raped her the night before.

According to Suhl, Bile then apologized to the victim, saying he was sorry and she did not deserve what happened. The victim texted Bile that she would not report the incident if they each paid her $500, which they agreed to, according to the prosecutor.

The defense attorneys attempted to use this demand as a leverage point to convince the judge to free their clients on bail.

The prosecutor argued the alleged victim never intended to go through with such a bargain, and had made the demand as a “safety tactic” because she feared the men would harm her if they believed she was going to report the incident to police.

The victim reported the incident to UMPD about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 14. Five days later, the accused men were arrested in separate locations in Pittsfield by officials with the UMass Police Department, the Pittsfield Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police Detectives Unit, assigned to the Berkshire County’s District Attorney’s Office, officials said.

Horvath said the time lapse occurred because the “well-being and mental and physical care of the victim is a priority.”

UMPD did “an exhausting investigation,” Horvath said. “This was an excellent job responding to a terrible incident.”

The University did not send out a campus-wide alert when the incident was reported because “there was no one else in danger as a result of this incident,” Horvath said.

At a press conference held yesterday afternoon, Northwestern District Attorney Dave Sullivan praised the alleged victim for coming forward and seeking help from authorities.

“We’ll be working on this case through the next coming weeks,” Sullivan said. “We’ll be working overzealously to bring these men to justice.”

Defense lawyers David Pixley, who represents Bile, and Raymond Jacoub, who represents Womack, both asked the judge to recuse herself.

In an interview in the courthouse parking lot after the arraignment, Jacoub said it seemed the judge had made up her mind before the bail arguments began.

Jacoub was particularly upset because Womack’s impending move to Windsor Locks was to be closer to his grandfather, who has cancer.  GPS monitoring is not feasible, Jacoub said, since the devices cannot be used in another state. His protests were dismissed.

“I don’t think it’s the court’s duty or responsibility to make orders based on the convenience of the defendant,” Hurley said during arraignment.

Jacoub also asked that an allowance be made in the curfew so Womack could attend a Monday class at Springfield Technical Community College running until 9:30 p.m. Hurley said the details could be worked out at a later point.

But when defense attorney Terrence Dunphy, who represents King, asked for his client’s curfew to be extended to 11 p.m. due to the hours King works as a cook in a pizza shop, Hurley denied the request.

All of the defense attorneys stated that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for their clients to post the $10,000 bail.

The defendants are due back in court on Dec. 10.

UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said disciplinary actions on the accused perpetrators will not be drawn from the UMass Code of Student Conduct because they are not University students. He and Enku Gelaye, the University’s dean of students and associate vice chancellor of student affairs, both said the individual who signed in the suspects could face disciplinary action.

In an email to the campus community yesterday, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy wrote that “maintaining a safe learning and living community is of the most importance of our campus.” He reiterated this sentiment at the press conference.

He also said the victim and her family are receiving help from University resources, including the Center for Women and Community.

Gelaye said it was important that the University ensure the victim could “exist in this environment.”

She also said that current security procedures, including signing guests in, may be under review.

“It would not be unprecedented for the University to review the sign in procedure,” Gelaye said. “We’re reviewing this incident exclusively and then on a broader scale, we’re going to look at all residential hall procedures.”

This is the second time within the last two years that University administration has formally announced comprehensive reviews of its policies in the aftermath of an alleged rape. While the University is now focusing its attention to security protocols and policies, its last highly publicized review of policies emphasized disciplinary sanctions for perpetrators.

In 2010, University officials admitted to improperly sanctioning a student who allegedly confessed to raping a 2009 UMass graduate in her on-campus residence, according to a Collegian article published in April of that year.

This prompted the University to create a special commission to begin preliminary moves toward amending the Student Code of Conduct, particularly regarding its sexual misconduct policies. The commission looked to develop minimum sanctions for perpetrators of serious offenses. A change recommended by the committee allowing for alleged victims to appeal alleged perpetrators’ sanctions is currently listed in this year’s Student Code of Conduct.

The alleged victim in the 2010 incident was reportedly raped in the North Apartments, and the alleged confessed rapist was given a deferred suspension. The punishment was not seen as severe enough by campus community members and others across the state when The Boston Globe and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting broke the story that year.

The four alleged rapists arraigned yesterday will not face University sanctions, as none are University students.

Last week, a former Amherst College student gave an account detailing her rape by a peer in her dormitory in an Op/Ed for the college’s student-run newspaper, The Amherst Student. As her alleged rapist graduated with honors, Angie Epifano wrote that she withdrew from Amherst College citing some administrators’ handling of her painful experience and inability to support her in its aftermath. The story spread like wildfire on social media sites, drawing national attention and an outpour of support for Epifano.

Meanwhile, a critical and disgusted eye shifted toward the prestigious college’s policies and practices regarding situations of rape.

“In response to her story, still more accounts of unreported sexual violence have appeared in social media postings and in emails I have received from several students and alumni,” said Amherst College President Biddy Martin in a release last week. “Clearly, the administration’s responses to reports have left survivors feeling that they were badly served. That must change, and change immediately. I am investigating the handling of the incident that was recounted in The Student. There will be consequences for any problems we identify, either with procedures or personnel.”

Last Friday, the day the four suspects were arrested on rape charges, a large protest was held in Epifano’s honor.

In 2011, five forcible rapes were reported on the UMass campus, four of which were in residence halls, according to the Annual Security Report for 2011 published by the UMPD. In 2010, three forcible rapes were reported on campus, all of which occurred in the residence halls.

University officials are instructing UMass students in need of support to call the CWC, which provides free and confidential crisis services for the entire campus, at 545-0800.

Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu. Herb Scribner can be reached at editor@dailycollegian.com. Alyssa Creamer can be reached at acreamer@student.umass.edu.

 

Comments
14 Responses to “Four Pittsfield teens charged with raping UMass student”
  1. Dr. Ed Cutting says:

    I can not believe the university was asinine enough to write the press release the way they did. They identified her – I am not going to say how in case a few people haven’t figured it out, but I honestly can’t believe that UMass did this.

    They might just as well have included her name…

  2. Dr. Ed Cutting says:

    And perhaps it is now time for the Collegian to write an article similar to the one the Duke paper once did — they entitled it “Paging Eddie Hull, Paging Eddie Hull…”

  3. billz says:

    A real bunch of winners based on their facebook pages. I’m sure they’re Obama voters.

  4. Kris says:

    I hope that this young lady can feel the strength of the community around her, and overcome this tragedy. My heart goes out to her.

  5. John says:

    Ed, you are assuming way too much. You have no facts.

  6. Frank says:

    I am outraged! This disgusting case must convince absolutely everyone how sexual violence on university and college campuses is evidence of the problems in our wider society and culture. It is imperative to understand the culture of masculinity and rape in sports, such as what happened at Boston University this past year and its hockey team, and what has happened at UMass when four men who were not students committed this heinous, heinous crime. I had to take an online quiz on alcohol safety in my last yer at UMass, but why not more education on sexual violence. It’s time greater measures are taken to combat sexual violence on college campuses. UMass must take the lead.

  7. EJC says:

    What is billz talking about? Obama voters? They just turned 18 you idiot they haven’t voted in their life. Real classy trying to politicize something terrible like this when there is no political component to it.

  8. x says:

    i’m not sure i can understand why the administration is in such a rush to say “no one else is in danger”. really? because it does seem that there are chronic issues around sexual (mis)behavior for people our age.
    at the same time though that known climate may make it easier for accusations to fly, and i don’t think it is appropriate to start passing judgment on a bunch of strangers until they are actually found guilty. billz is a troll and we should ignore him. but isn’t it possible this is easier to swallow, for instance, right off the bat for some people just because they are ‘townies’ rather than star athletes or something?

  9. Kris says:

    Trolling, counter-trolling, talking about UMass housing, Obama, and sports? Gentlemen, some respect. These are the last things on this young lady’s mind.

  10. Dr. Ed Cutting says:

    No, no, no. As I understand it, the individual in the North incident admitted to having CONSENSUAL sex with the woman. She wanted him to spend the night with her afterwards, he instead went to a party, and she left a voicemail on his cell phone threatening to file rape charges if he didn’t get back pronto. He didn’t, she did, and when the cops came around, he merely played the recording for them and there wasn’t much they could do at that point.

    Nor was there much the Dean of Students office could do other than bust him for a violation of the guest policy because he wasn’t with his guest when he left her in bed and went to the party.

    Folks, I have this on really good authority – and look at it this way as well — neither Lisa Kidwell nor the EWC nor any of the other folks (professional staff) who would raise hell about a rape not being prosecuted SAID ANYTHING. The EWC was notably silent during the campus protests — doesn’t that say something?

  11. Roger Katz says:

    Little has been said here about the previous relationship between the girl and her attackers, or about binge drinking and smoking grass. I suspect the boys had been drinking as well and feeding off the dynamic of group activity in moving forward.
    There seems no end to substance abuse and sexual abuse and the too common relationship between them. Despite minor attempts at regulation of alcohol and and pot and the myriad of additional drugs now available, colleges and police often seem to show too great a tolerance while dealing with countless other issues and too little funding. As a society we show far too little good sense and courage in taking responsibility for ourselves and those around us. We are doomed to see more of these horrendous actions for no good reason.

  12. Dr. Ed Cutting says:

    Roger – the Boston Herald (but not Collegian) has covered this.

    Herald reporting that she had reportedly drunken so much vodka and smoked so much pot that “she was passing in and out of consciousness” and hence was unable to shout for help.

    There is also the $2000 extortion attempt which is not being reported — she allegedly told each of the alleged perps that if they each gave her $500, she wouldn’t report this “gang bang” (term she reportedly used) as a “rape” to the authorities. This all reportedly was via text message — and what people need to remember is that both the DA and defense attorneys will have copies of everyone’s text messages given to them by the telephone companies – both sides will know exactly what she and the four boys sent (to anyone) as a text message.

    There also is a third thing that happened at 11:41 Sunday night that Dr. Ed knows about….

  13. Brandon says:

    Substance abuse is a major issue on college campuses across America. However, by no means should we uphold a double standard when it comes to these issues. Men are just as responsible as women to maintain character while under the influence. The verdict is simple in cases of rape that actually do surface; you’ll pay for the consequences of your actions, while inebriated or not. I don’t find arguments about what a female was wearing or how she was acting convincing to remove blame from the perpetrator. All I see are shallow attempts to excuse the behavior of weak willed men who lack principle. In no way should we ever try to justify the actions of rape. Granted, this observation tells us an important feature of society. You don’t walk down a dangerous part of town known for crime and theft with an $300 iPod in your hand. I don’t believe in limiting women’s rights; frankly it is not my right how to tell women to dress or behave. However, if you participate in a particular culture you are subject to the statistics that come along for the ride. It merely suggests exercising caution in a society where rape does exist. What’s even more interesting is that in a number of circumstances of rape, no college party or substance abuse was involved. So why do we embrace a culture that blames the victims? You’re such a savior, Ed. Those poor four men that each took their turn with the victim have no one to defend them. It must be the victim’s fault, surely. She was under the influence and showing her ankle. Such brazen defiance. It’s her fault that those men were in her room too when she returned. It’s her fault she was so heavily under the influence that she couldn’t scream for help. She has the right to be under the influence, whether *you* agree with it or not, and safely return to her room without being raped by four men. You know what I’ll remember about the text message that girl sent out the next day? I’ll remember a frightened victim trying to make sense of a traumatizing experience. I think we can give her a little credit here. She was just raped by four men. Sorry she acted out of character after a life-altering experience. Honestly. And Ed, it is completely tacky to put “Dr.” in front of your name for every post you make on here. You have a Ph.D? That’s cool. Let’s let the entire daily collegian community know every time you post. Just in case you guys didn’t know…Ed? Yeah, he’s a doctor of philosophy. Just wanted to subtly drop that fact on this message board. Continue to bestow us underlings with the magical wisdom your title provides.

  14. samantha says:

    Blitz- what does this girl being raped have to do with them voting for Obama. Why would you sya something like that. your comment wasn’t needed.

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