Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Opening statements delivered, first witnesses called in second trial for alleged 2012 gang rape at UMass

Hampshire County Courthouse Collegian File Photo
Hampshire County Courthouse
(Collegian File Photo)


NORTHAMPTON — Opening statements in the trial of the second of four men accused of gang-raping a female University of Massachusetts student in her dorm room began Wednesday, as the prosecution called its first three witnesses to the stand.

Justin King, 21, of Pittsfield, is charged with three counts of aggravated rape following an early morning incident in October 2012 in which he and three friends allegedly forcibly and repeatedly raped the then University student in her Pierpont Hall dorm room, taking turns while she was heavily intoxicated.

Emmanuel 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 – Caleb Womack, 20, of Windsor Locks, Connecticut, and Adam Liccardi, 20, of Pittsfield, where charged with three and four counts of aggravated rape, respectively, for their involvement.

Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer H. Suhl told the eight-man, six-women jury that King and Bile had visited the woman twice before that semester. Karyssa Youngs, a friend of the woman who also lived in Pierpont that semester, testified that she had told Bile not to come that weekend because there was nothing going on and that the victim agreed to send him a similar message.

That night, both Youngs and Jessica Russo, her roommate and a friend of the victim, described her as “very drunk” during a dorm room party in Pierpont – bumping into things, talking loudly and acting friendlier than usual.

In his cross-examination of both women, King’s attorney, Terrence Dunphy, of Springfield, noted that neither Youngs nor Russo were sure how much alcohol the woman consumed and that Russo herself had taken three shots that night.

Later, as Youngs’ and Russo were preparing to go to bed, they came into contact with the four men. The two women said they were “surprised” to see them.

Although Youngs’ and Russo’s accounts differed, the victim, the women and the four men went to the victim’s room. As they were conversing, Russo testified that the victim was “noticeably drunker,” had stopped talking and was being held up by King, who sat on the bed next to her.

“I had never seen her that intoxicated before,” Youngs said.

Eventually, Youngs said she communicated with the victim and four men that it was time for bed and established that everybody would be leaving. Before she left, she laid the victim down and said she appeared to be sleeping.

However, Dunphy said that Youngs hadn’t seen all of the men leave the room – and didn’t know where they were for the rest of the night – and asked why she didn’t perceive that as dangerous.

“I was 18 (years old) and (was) not expecting any danger,” Youngs said after questioned by Suhl on a redirect.

Suhl said in her opening statement that the men went on to take turns having sex with the woman, initially ignoring her protests until they got loud enough. Suhl said that, 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.”

Dunphy argued, however, that the jurors must also take medical evidence into account, citing that the only DNA sample drawn from the woman was from Bile.

The events following the alleged rape drew skepticism from Dunphy.

The next morning, Russo testified that she saw the victim in the hallway and that the victim was crying and appeared shaken up. However, Dunphy said the victim didn’t go to the police until Monday, and texted Bile requesting $500 to keep her from taking the incident to court.

According to Suhl, King exchanged text messages with Bile saying he was “extremely concerned” about both her request and the situation.

Dunphy also objected to the police’s inadequacy to secure the woman’s phone despite securing the phones of the four accused men.

The trial will pick up tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and is expected to last about a week. According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the victim is expected to testify, as she did against Bile.

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

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