Patrick Durocher testifies on sixth day of rape trial

By Shelby Ashline

2016-02-03 10.00.03
(Courtesy of Kevin Gutting/Daily Hampshire Gazette)

NORTHAMPTON – As the trial of former University of Massachusetts student Patrick Durocher entered its sixth day Wednesday, the jury heard testimony from Durocher himself, who maintains the sex he had with another student in September 2013 was consensual.

Durocher, 20, of Longmeadow, has pled not guilty to aggravated rape, kidnapping and assault and battery. The alleged victim, who testified on Jan. 28, claims Durocher approached and assaulted her next to the Campus Center as she walked home from a party on Sept. 2, 2013.

On the stand, Durocher recounted the events on the night in question, beginning from when he and some friends were drinking shots of alcohol before going to a party at a fraternity house on North Pleasant Street.

Arriving at the party at 10 or 10:30 p.m., Durocher said he “made small talk” with two students from his hometown, John Mentor and Jack Neil, drank beer and danced with two different women, one of whom he says was the alleged victim.

“We decided that we would leave together,” said Durocher, adding that he and the woman intended to head back to Southwest Residential Area, where they both lived.

Although he said that he and the woman had been kissing at the party, the topic of sex had not been discussed, according to him.

“When we left the party, we were both holding hands,” Durocher continued. “She pointed out that there was a shortcut back to the Southwest dormitories which was by the Campus Center.”

As they were walking, Durocher said the woman turned to him and they began making out with their arms embracing each other until her hand moved to the front of his pants.

“To the best of my memory, we led right to the ground, right by the path right there,” he continued, clarifying that he and the woman laid down only about two feet from the sidewalk. “I was on my back and she was right on top of me.”

“She had unbuttoned the top of my shorts,” said Durocher, and “attempted to slide her panties to the side” to have sex.

However, Durocher said the position was difficult and he suggested they relocate, moving about 60 feet to the base of the Campus Center steps.

“It just seemed like a better place to do it,” he said. “At UMass, it seemed like a thing that can go on there. I’ve heard it’s a party school.

“While being drunk it didn’t seem like that bad of an idea,” he added.

Next to the Campus Center, Durocher said it occurred to him he had a condom in his wallet and he put it on, adding that the woman was “encouraging” him.

“She never yelled out for help, never told me to stop,” he said. Durocher also refutes that he tried to pin the woman down or that he pushed her against a tree while applying pressure to her throat and arm, which the woman described in her testimony.

Eventually, Durocher said he and the woman were approached by a group of female students, at which time he remembers saying, “You’re blowing up my spot,” something that another witness recalled in testimony.

“They called out, ‘What are you doing?’” he said, adding that one woman, Sarah Strangie, was talking loudly at him, accusing him of drugging the alleged victim’s drink.

The group helped the woman to stand and walk back to her dorm, but they encountered Durocher again near Bartlett Hall, where witnesses stated the woman asked to lie down. Durocher said he remembers the woman sitting up – not laying down – as he tried to talk with Strangie until a man approached him.

“He seemed to really come out of nowhere,” he said. “He pushed me back and told me not to talk to that girl.”

Regardless, Durocher said he stayed at the scene until the police and ambulance arrived. He described introducing himself to the officers, showing them where he had left the condom by the Campus Center and later, once back at his dorm, giving them his clothes for evidence.

Durocher attested he received a notice from the University saying he would be removed as a student the next day.

“My mother and a family friend, who was my lawyer at the time,  helped draft up an email,” he said, where he explained his side and which was sent to the Dean of Students office roughly three weeks later.

During cross examination, prosecutor Jennifer Suhl argued that in the email, which was signed by Durocher, it states Durocher met the woman while leaving the party as opposed to having had prior contact with her that night. To this, Durocher replied he didn’t type the email himself and that his mother and lawyer must have simply forgotten some of his story’s details.

The defense called an additional three witnesses: Lauren Coakley, Neil and Mentor. All three attended the fraternity party.

Both Neil and Mentor, who were with Durocher at the party and knew him from their hometown of Longmeadow, said they never saw Durocher with the alleged victim, with whom they were also acquainted. Both also agreed that Durocher and the woman were intoxicated.

Durocher said he observed no issues at all with the woman’s speech or the way she was walking, nor did he have difficulty walking himself.

Coakley, who saw the incident as she walked home, said she would describe the woman’s body as looking limp, although she only took notice for a few seconds before continuing to Southwest.

However, when asked by defense attorney Vincent Bongiorni, “Did (the woman) ever cry out to you?” Coakley responded negatively.

Although both sides expected jury deliberations to begin Wednesday, Bongiorni argued for the admission of a video recorded deposition of Strangie, who is currently studying abroad. Judge Mary-Lou Rup approved the movement and because the video needed to be redacted before it was viewed in court, she dismissed the jurors at 2 p.m.

But according to a MassLive article, Bongiorni has since withdrawn his request to admit the video and said he will rest his case immediately Thursday morning. Closing arguments will follow.

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