4 Pittsfield teens held on bail after alleged UMass rape
AMHERST — Calling the allegations “horrendous,” a judge this week set bail at $10,000 each for four Pittsfield teenagers accused of gang-raping a University of Massachusetts student for hours on the morning of Oct. 13.
UMass police charged Emmanuel Bile, Justin King and Adam Liccardi, all 18, and Caleb Womack, 17, with three counts each of rape. Liccardi faces a fourth charge for allegedly continuing the assault after the other three left.
The suspects pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon in Eastern Hampshire District Court. None of them is a UMass student, and all are known to the alleged victim, according to police.
According to Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl, the student did not invite the men to campus, but they were let in to her residence hall by a third party.
When the victim arrived back at her room she agreed to socialize with the men, and vodka was consumed by the victim and all four suspects.
According to Suhl, at some point one of the suspects shut off the lights in the room and the four of them attacked her, forcibly removed her clothing and continually raped her.
Suhl said the alleged victim wept openly and used the word “no” during the assault.
“Never in my time on the bench have I heard such an egregious recounting of facts,” Judge Mary Hurley said.
According to information presented in court, the victim texted Bile the next day, accusing the teens of raping her. Bile allegedly texted back an apology on behalf of himself and the others.
Defense attorneys claimed that the alleged victim asked each of the accused to pay her $500 or she would go to the police.
Suhl told Hurley that the victim was not trying to blackmail the men, but that the request was a “safety tactic” to mislead her alleged attackers into believing she would be silent while she sought out authorities.
If any of the teens should post bail, they will need to remain in Massachusetts, surrender their passports, stay away from the alleged victim and any potential witnesses, stay out of the towns of Amherst, New Marlborough, and Great Barrington, submit to GPS monitoring, observe an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, report to probation at least twice a week, and avoid drugs and alcohol and submit to random screenings.
At a press conference at the UMass police station Monday afternoon, UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said maintaining a safe learning and living community is crucial.
“We will not tolerate this violent behavior,” Subbaswamy said. “The victim and her family are receiving support from our campus resources.”
Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan praised the student for her courage in stepping forward.
Authorities said the investigation continues and is looking at how the suspects got into the building.
Procedures require anyone entering a dormitory to either present a student ID or sign in as a guest. Once inside the building, the suspects also needed assistance to get into either the elevator or stairwell, he said.
“They were signed in as guests of the dorm,” Horvath said.
Dean of Students Enku Gelaye said officials will examine sign-in procedures and determine whether they were followed. She said the campus will redouble efforts to improve safety protocols.