Witness testimony delivered in rape trial of former UMass student

By Mark Chiarelli

Alexis Smither addresses a map of the UMass campus during witness testimony Tuesday in the Patrick Durocher trial. Mark Chiarelli/Daily Collegian
Alexis Smither addresses a map of the UMass campus during witness testimony Tuesday in the Patrick Durocher trial.
(Mark Chiarelli/Daily Collegian)

Witness testimony continued Tuesday in the trial of Patrick Durocher and jurors saw images of the former University of Massachusetts student laying half-naked next to a female student on the Campus Center lawn in September 2013.

Durocher, 20, is accused of strangling and raping another UMass student on Sept. 2, 2013 – just three days into his freshman year. He has pled not guilty and is currently free on $10,000 bail.

Jurors heard testimony from five witnesses Tuesday. Four witnesses, all current or former UMass students, testified that they saw Durocher laying on top of and next to the female student in the grass next to the Campus Center. The fifth witness, a local paramedic and firefighter, treated the woman and transported her to Cooley Dickinson Hospital later that night.

Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl said in her opening statements Monday that the woman was too intoxicated to provide consent, and had met Durocher at a fraternity party that night on Sept. 2. The woman claims that on the walk back that night Durocher pinned her against a tree and raped her as she came in and out of consciousness that night.

Durocher’s attorney, Vincent Bongiorni, said the sex between Durocher and the woman was consensual and repeatedly said his client didn’t attempt to hide from the incident.

Zlata Myshchuk, 22, testified Tuesday that she encountered Durocher and the woman that night as she walked back to her Southwest Residential Area dorm room with two friends. Myshchuk, who graduated in 2015, said she saw Durocher lying on top of the woman – who was flat on her back – with his pants off. It appeared the woman wasn’t moving, Myshchuk said.

Myshchuk testified that once she approached the pair, Durocher said, “You’re blowing up my spot.”

Joshua Perry, a former UMass student and friend of Myshchuk who was also walking with her, said that Durocher appeared intoxicated based on his aggressive response toward them. Perry, 22, said Durocher attempted to walk away from Campus Center and back toward the Northeast Residential Area.

“He was trying to walk off and not be any part of what was happening,” Perry said.

But Durocher’s attorney contends that wasn’t the case, saying Durocher attempted to introduce himself to Myshchuk at the scene. Durocher told Myshchuk the sex was consensual, provided her with a condom wrapper and denied Myshchuk’s accusation that he drugged the woman’s drink, Bongiorni said.

Bongiorni said that his client “never tried to run away.”

When asked if Durocher told her anything else that night, Myshchuk said he told her she was “ruining his education.”

A timeline forms, according to witness testimony

Alexis Smither, a UMass junior, was the first witness called to the stand. She said she and a group of women first encountered Durocher and the woman shortly after midnight as they walked back to Southwest from a house party on North Pleasant Street. Smither testified a group of students were filming, videotaping and laughing at Durocher as he lay on top of the woman.

Smither said as she moved closer, it appeared the woman was not moving and her eyes were closed. Smither and her group called out to Durocher, at which point he climbed off the woman and grabbed his shorts, which were next to him on the grass, she testified.

Smither said she approached the woman, who said “Help me, I don’t know what’s going on.”

According to their testimony, Myshchuk and Perry arrived shortly after the group of women and also saw Durocher and the woman laying in the grass. Perry said the group of girls managed to assist the woman in leaving the Campus Center area. He and Myshchuk saw the group of women a few minutes later by Memorial Hall, and the woman was again laying on her back on the ground, they said.

At that point, Myshchuk, a pre-med major, said she checked the woman’s pulse and determined she needed medical assistance. She testified that the woman was “covered in hickies.”

Patrick Durocher sits with his attorney Vincent Bongiorni Tuesday at Hampshire Superior Court. Mark Chiarelli/Daily Collegian)
Patrick Durocher sits with his attorney Vincent Bongiorni Tuesday at Hampshire Superior Court.
Mark Chiarelli/Daily Collegian)

Myshchuk said she attempted to call 911 using a Blue Light emergency response system near Memorial Hall, but the system did not work, prompting her to use a cell phone.

Bongiorni questioned both groups of students in court. He asked both Myshchuk and Smither why they waited several minutes to call 911 and didn’t do so immediately upon seeing her in the grass near the Campus Center.

Bongiorni also said Myshchuk told police the woman tried to “downplay” the incident and claimed she was only taking a nap, and also said the woman was “embarrassed” and simply wanted to go home.

Smither, Myshchuk and Perry all said they believed both Durocher and the woman were drunk, with Myshchuk saying she believed the woman was more drunk than Durocher. Bongiorni said the three witnesses had never met his client and had no prior knowledge of him, adding that his client willingly introduced himself to police upon their arrival to the scene.

“You don’t know what he looked like drunk or sober,” Bongiorni argued.

A photograph surfaces on Twitter

Jacqueline Jacobs, 21, also testified Tuesday. Jacobs, who is currently a senior at UMass, claims she was one of the individuals who first saw Durocher on top of the woman.

Jacobs was also returning to Southwest from a party on North Pleasant St. and used the popular shortcut past the Campus Center with friends. She took a picture of Durocher on top of the women and said it “looked like sex.”

“We took a picture because we thought it was a consensual thing,” Jacobs testified, adding she was intoxicated. “We thought it was funny.”

Jacobs said she later posted the picture on Twitter. Shortly after, she said her phone “started blowing up,” and the picture was retweeted by Barstool Sports. She took the picture down within 24 hours, and said she then received a phone call from police asking for a copy of the photo.

Jurors also heard testimony from Christopher Goodhind, a then-Amherst firefighter and paramedic who responded to the call. Goodhind said when he initially observed the woman laying on the ground near Memorial Hall, she couldn’t provide verbal responses to questions and was “lethargic.”

When questioned by Bongiorni, Goodhind said he noted that upon loading the woman into the ambulance, she began to respond to questions. He wrote in a report that she provided “appropriate answers” and experienced some bruising, but did not sustain serious injuries that required further treatment or documentation.

The trial will continue Wednesday in Hampshire Superior Court. Suhl said in her opening statements Monday that the woman is expected to testify at some point.

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.