Patrick Durocher rape trial enters third day

By Patricia Leboeuf

Mark Chiarelli/Daily Collegian
Mark Chiarelli/Daily Collegian

NORTHAMPTON — Jurors heard testimony from eight witnesses Wednesday in the the trial of former University of Massachusetts student Patrick Durocher in Hampshire Superior Court.

Durocher, 20, of Longmeadow, has been charged with one count each of aggravated rape, kidnapping and aggravated assault and battery against another UMass student. The incident occurred on Sept. 2, 2013 — just three days into his freshman year.

Of Wednesday’s eight witnesses, two provided details about the alleged victim’s activity earlier on the night in question, and another two testified that they saw Durocher laying on top of the female student on the grass just north of the Campus Center. The jury also heard from two UMass Police Department officers who arrived at the scene, a nurse who attempted to examine the woman and a forensic analyst who determined the woman’s blood alcohol content.

Laura Sheehan, a senior accounting major at UMass, and Danielle Dubois, a senior biology major, described events that happened earlier that night. Dubois, Sheehan and the victim, all residents of the same dormitory in Southwest Residential Area, met up in the dorm at around 9:30 p.m. to consume alcohol before going to a fraternity party.

Dubois estimated that the group arrived at the party at around 11 p.m. Once there, both Dubois and Sheehan parted ways with the victim. Both also left the party before the victim, who Sheehan said wanted to stay and who she described as “in control” at the time and not overly intoxicated.

Rebecca Finell, a junior dance and hospitality and tourism management double major, and Eftihia Georgallis, a junior political science major, also attended the fraternity party and were walking back to their dorms in Southwest when they first came in contact with the victim at around 2 a.m, according to the witnesses.

Georgallis testified that as they were walking past the Campus Center, she saw both a man and a woman lying on the ground. Finell, however, said she did not see the woman at first.

“I think the male was on top of the female,” said Georgallis, adding she could not be sure. “We noticed that the male party had his pants pulled down around his ankles…Her dress or skirt was hiked up the whole way.

Georgallis recalled that people were pointing and that one of her friends began to take photographs of the couple. One of the photos was shown to the jury.

Finell said that as she and Georgallis approached, she saw Durocher pull up his pants. Finell said she noticed the woman for the first time at that moment.

During cross-examination, Finell said the woman did not cry out for help or appear to struggle, and her clothing was not ripped or torn.

The woman was immobile and appeared to be asleep, Finell continued. She doesn’t remember the woman saying anything when she first encountered her.

“Someone asked her if she was alright and she asked us if we could take her home,” Georgallis added during her testimony, elaborating that the woman opened her eyes when they spoke to her. The woman’s eyes appeared glassy, Finell said.

When asked by Durocher’s attorney, Vincent Bongiorni, if the woman told her that she had been attacked, Georgallis replied that she did not and so she didn’t call the police.

Bongiorni also asked Georgallis if she noticed marks on the woman’s neck. She did, she said, and the woman explained that they were hickeys.

The group tried to assist the woman in walking back to her dorm. Georgallis said that her speech was “very slurred,” “slow” and that she needed to pay close attention to understand her.

“We were carrying a lot of her weight,” Georgallis continued. “We were walking very slowly. She definitely could not walk on her own.”

After only five or 10 minutes, Georgallis said she asked to lay down in the vicinity of the grassy area between the Old Chapel and Bartlett Hall, and Finell and Georgallis agreed. Not wanting her to fall asleep, Georgallis and her friends tried to keep her engaged in conversation.

“She couldn’t tell us anything about (Durocher) other than she had met him that night,” Georgallis said. In Georgallis’ opinion, Durocher was intoxicated as well.

Georgallis and Finell said they saw Durocher again, walking with a group of men. One of their friends stopped him. Another man, who identified himself as a residential assistant, later approached the group to ask if everything was alright. Georgallis assumed that he was the one who called the police.

Jurors also heard testimony from Robert Thrasher and Christopher Stechmann, two UMPD officers. Thrasher and Stechmann responded to the incident after hearing the dispatch over the police radio.

When the ambulance arrived, Thrasher sent an officer with the woman to ascertain what happened. Another man approached Stechmann and led him to the suspected crime scene.

“I garnered information from that individual that led me to believe I needed to take further action at that time,” Stechmann explained.

Stechmann found two torn pieces of paper on the ground — part of a UMass campus map — as well as a condom wrapper and condom. He froze the scene and the detective squad was called in to analyze the scene. They arrived at approximately 2:30 a.m.

The jury was shown photographs of the scene next to the Campus Center, showing the paper, wrapper and condom on the ground.

Meanwhile, Thrasher and UMPD Sergeant Matthew Malo brought Durocher back to his dorm and asked to take his shirt, shorts, sneakers and underwear for evidentiary purposes, Thrasher explained.

Bongiorni established that Durocher voluntarily gave up his items, as he was not under arrest at the time.

Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer H. Suhl introduced Durocher’s clothing from that night into evidence, along with photographs of the items and video surveillance footage of the lobby and main entrance of Durocher’s then-residence hall.

The videos, both under a minute in length, showed Durocher, Malo and Thrasher entering the lobby and the main hallway of Emerson Hall in the early morning hours.

The woman was taken by ambulance to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton and at around 4 a.m., Marie Boutin, a certified sexual assault nurse examiner, was called in. Boutin was the sixth witness called to testify Wednesday.

When she arrived, Boutin said she “tried to speak with (the woman), but she wasn’t able to speak to me.”

“I didn’t feel…that I could get her to engage long enough to do that examination,” said Boutin, explaining that a patient must establish consent prior to being examined.

However, during cross-examination, Bongiorni introduced a document from the hospital, written before Boutin was called, which stated that the patient was refusing an exam and refusing to speak to police. He also emphasized that a definitive examination was never conducted.

The final expert called to the stand was Samantha Fisk, a forensic analyst working in the office of alcohol testing within the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory.

Based on a blood sample that had been collected and delivered to her for testing, Fisk told the jury that the woman’s blood alcohol content was .22. However, Bongiorni emphasized that “everyone is unique” and responds to alcohol differently, to which Fisk agreed.

The trial will continue into Thursday. Suhl said in her opening statement that the alleged victim is expected to testify at some point.

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at [email protected] Shelby Ashline can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Shelby_Ashline.