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

Patrick Durocher sentenced to three to five years in prison

(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)

NORTHAMPTON – Patrick Durocher was sentenced to three to five years in prison in Hampshire Superior Court Friday, stemming from the 2013 rape and assault and battery of a fellow University of Massachusetts student on the Campus Center lawn.

Durocher, 20, of Longmeadow also received four years of probation following incarceration. He must complete counseling for sexual offenders, an evaluation for substance abuse problems, refrain from consuming alcohol or drugs and be subject to random screenings. Durocher, who will wear a GPS monitor throughout the four years of probation, is also barred from having any contact with the victim.

As the 2 p.m. start time approached, the area outside of Superior Court Room 2 filled with the sounds of Durocher’s friends and family exchanging somber words of support. A procession of young men in formal dress shuffled in single file to embrace Durocher with handshakes and hugs. Moments later, as court entered session, officers turned away attendees for a lack of seating.

The victim and her family entered the courtroom last, escorted by an officer to the front row, a few feet away from Durocher’s immediate family. Judge Mary-Lou Rup opened the session by cautioning against any emotional outbursts that would disrupt the proceedings. She then offered Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suhl the floor.

Suhl suggested a sentence of five to seven and a half years in state prison. Durocher’s defense attorney, Vincent Bongiorni, argued for probation, saying the case’s circumstances and Durocher’s lack of a prior record did not warrant treating his client as a “hardened” criminal.

Suhl acknowledged Durocher’s age and lack of a prior record were factors in writing the sentencing memorandum. She justified her recommendation by focusing on the severity of Durocher’s crimes.

“Rape is one of the most heinous and atrocious acts that a member of our society can commit on another member (of) our society,” Suhl said.

Suhl argued that without prison time, rehabilitation would be impossible for Durocher. She claimed the defense’s arguments throughout the trial indicated that Durocher does not believe he committed a crime or should be held accountable.

“We know, working in this system, that if someone does not accept (accountability)… rehabilitation will not occur,” Suhl said.

She emphasized the impact that Durocher’s actions had on the victim, calling it a “daily experience…that affects every part of her life.” She then invited the woman to read a victim impact statement to the courtroom.

The woman stood before the courtroom and with a wavering voice described her struggles with trust, dignity, confidence, depression and anger following the assault. She said she feels “like a shell of her former self.”

“My faith in the honest man is lost,” she said.

Following the victim’s statement, Bongiorni argued why the sentence guidelines shouldn’t apply to Durocher and challenged some of the evidence that led to his conviction.

“I take issue with some of the factual assertions made by the Commonwealth,” Bongiorni said, “Our position of the evidence is that this is not a stranger on stranger attack as (the victim) has described it.”

Bongiorni said that had it been a random assault, the prosecution’s sentencing request would have some merit. He said he has no doubt that the victim was affected by what occurred that evening, however, the incident was a result of “two young people…who both may have made some mistakes that evening.”

He argued that young men under the influence of alcohol can often “misread” cues and reiterated that Durocher could be “any 18- or 19-year-old (male) on a college campus on any Friday or Saturday night.”

He also argued that Durocher did not belong in the state prison system, which he referred to as “a gladiator academy.” He emphasized that young men often come out of the system worse than when they went in.

“I don’t believe putting Patrick in a state prison is going to rehabilitate him,” Bongiorni said.

Bongiorni consistently referenced the amount of letters submitted to the courts on behalf of Durocher as testaments to his character and further support for a probationary sentence.

“(The letters are) a true barometer of who he is,” Bongiorni said.

Rup admitted that her decision was difficult in nature. However, she believed that his offense was too severe to warrant probation and expressed confidence that the Department of Corrections would assign Durocher to an appropriate facility.

The sobs and shrieks coming from his mother and sister were some of the last sounds that Durocher heard before court officers placed him in handcuffs.

Rup sentenced Durocher to three to five years in Cedar Junction, followed by four years of probation. As court officers escorted Durocher from the room, his sister screamed, “I love you, Patrick” before collapsing onto the bench.

Durocher was originally charged with kidnapping, aggravated rape and assault and battery. A jury convicted him of rape and assault and battery on Feb. 5.

The victim testified that Durocher approached her from behind, pressed her up against a tree before dragging her to the ground and raping her.

Witnesses testified that they saw Durocher on top of a woman lying on her back in front of the Campus Center and that the victim was visibly intoxicated and disoriented.

Durocher’s defense maintained that the sex was consensual and that both parties made a drunken mistake. Bongiorni argued that Durocher was only accused of rape once the victim felt embarrassed after a photo of the incident appeared on social media.

Despite the sentence, Durocher has the possibility of serving less time. He left the courtroom incarcerated and his placement will be determined soon.

Yelena Rasic contributed to this report. Brendan Deady can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @bdeady26.

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  • K

    KateFeb 22, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    I just can’t feel sorry for his family. Maybe if his mom and sis hadn’t coddled him with a “boys will be boys” mentality, this little predator wouldn’t have raped a passed out girl. May they rot.