Massachusetts Daily Collegian

King claims sex with woman was consensual during alleged 2012 gang rape

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Hampshire County Courthouse (Collegian File Photo)

Hampshire County Courthouse
(Collegian File Photo)

Justin King – the second of four men accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her dorm room in October of 2012 – testified that the sex he had with the woman was initially consensual before the trial adjourned and jury deliberations began this afternoon, according to The Daily Hampshire Gazette.

King has been charged with three counts of aggravated rape following an early morning incident on Oct. 13, 2012, in which he and three friends allegedly forcibly and repeatedly raped the former University student in her Pierpont Hall dorm room, taking turns while she was heavily intoxicated.

Last Wednesday, two of the woman’s friends – Jessica Russo and Karyssa Youngs – testified that she was “very drunk” the night of Oct. 12, bumping into things, talking loudly, acting friendlier than usual and, by the end of the night, they said she was unable to sit up without being held up by King and had stopped talking. In her opening statements, Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl told jurors that consent could not be given while someone was so intoxicated.

On Friday, the woman testified that, after being left alone with the four men by her two female friends, she could not move and was only partially conscious as the men removed her clothes and raped her, according to the Gazette.

During his approximately two and a half hour stint on the witness stand, King, 21, of Pittsfield, reportedly said that he began having consensual sex with the woman that night and that she waved over Adam Liccardi, a codefendant of King, to join. King said she did not object until another codefendant, Emmanuel Bile, joined, at which point King said he left and headed home, according to the Gazette.

Yet, last Wednesday, Suhl said when asked by police whether consent for the sexual encounter had been given, King replied, “I don’t know. I was really drunk. I just didn’t care or worry.”

According to the Gazette, King also said during cross-examination that he would have paid the $500 that the woman asked for in return for not going to the police. A tweet from Gazette reporter Rebecca Everett said that King’s attorney, Terrence Dunphy, of Springfield, said this was to “avoid a lot of pain for (him) and (his) family.”

“That’s not unusual response, whether you did anything or not,” Dunphy told jurors, according to another one of Everett’s tweets.

King also talked about text messages between Bile and himself before the visit, messages in which Bile said he was interested in hooking up with one of the woman’s friends, to which King replied that he would “take” the woman, according to the Gazette.

On Wednesday, Youngs testified that she had told Bile not to come that weekend because there was nothing going on and that the woman agreed to send him a similar message.

According to Everett’s tweets, in his closing arguments Dunphy criticized the UMass Police Department for its inability to secure the woman’s phone – which he speculated could have important evidence – and told the eight men, six women jury that this trial is about the decisions teenagers make when they are under the influence of alcohol and drugs. On Wednesday, Dunphy also said the only DNA sample drawn from the woman was from Bile.

Bile, 21, was convicted in March of two counts of aggravated rape and is serving eight to 10 years in state prison. The two other men – Liccardi, 20, of Pittsfield, and Caleb Womack, 20, of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, are charged with four and three counts of aggravated rape, respectively, for their involvement. Dates for the trials of Liccardi and Womack have yet to be set.

Anthony Rentsch can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Anthony_Rentsch.

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