Ex-UMass student on trial for rape
NORTHAMPTON — During a rape trial Wednesday in Hampshire Superior Court, a prosecutor said Weilang Wang is a predator who “knew what he wanted and took it,” while his defense attorney contended that the encounter last year was consensual.
Wang, a former University of Massachusetts student, faces rape and sexual assault charges alleging that he sexually assaulted a former classmate on the UMass campus Feb. 19, 2013. Wang, 19, a Chinese national, has been banned from the UMass campus since his arraignment last year.
His lawyer said Wang initially lied to police to take responsibility for the incident in hopes of salvaging the woman’s relationship with her boyfriend in China.
In a 12-minute opening statement, Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Carrie Russell said Wang relentlessly pursued the woman — also a Chinese citizen studying at UMass — even after she told him she was not interested.
“From the moment he first saw her, he wanted her,” Russell said. “He pursued her, he chased her.”
“When she rebuffed those advances, he took what he wanted,” said Russell.
It is Gazette policy not to name the victims or alleged victims of sexual assaults.
Russell said the two met on campus in January 2013 and became part of a group of fellow students from China and Japan.
Russell said the two became friends, but the woman told Wang on several occasions that she was not interested in him romantically.
On Feb. 19, the two had made plans to study together, but the weather was bad that night, so both went back to their separate dorms instead.
Russell said the woman contacted Wang later that night telling him she was coming to his building to study, because she had seen a large bug in her room and did not want to stay there.
Wang convinced the woman to study in his room with him rather than in a common study area, Russell said.
She fell asleep in Wang’s room, Russell said, because she was still adjusting from jet lag from her trip to Massachusetts from China about a month earlier.
According to Russell, Wang told the woman in that situation that he was not a man if nothing happened between them.
Russell said Wang pinned the woman’s arms to the bed and assaulted her. The woman asked Wang to stop several times, Russell said.
At Wang’s suggestion, Russell said, the woman contacted her boyfriend in China to tell him what had happened.
When the boyfriend called back, Wang allegedly answered the phone and told him that his girlfriend had betrayed him, he had taken her and she was his, before hanging up.
The boyfriend called back and spoke to the woman for about 20 minutes while Wang was still in the room.
She then told Wang her boyfriend told her to call the police and Wang said he would go with her to the station, Russell said.
When the pair could not find the campus police station, Wang called from an emergency phone on campus and told the dispatcher, “I need to be arrested, I attempted to rape a girl,” Russell said.
Wang’s defense attorney John Connor of Greenfield asked the jury which comprises 10 women and four men to keep their emotions in check when hearing the testimony and not give in to a natural, visceral reaction.
“Weilang Wang is accused of crimes, the very nature of which invoke tremendous emotions,” Connor said, reminding the jury that Wang is considered innocent until proven guilty.
“Weilang Wang is entitled to one of the most fundamental rights that our criminal justice system has — presumption of innocence,” said Connor. “That fundamental right, no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what country you come from, is afforded to all accused in our country.”
Connor said his client told police a lot of things the night of the alleged assault, “much of which was not true.”
Wang “made false statements to the police about what he’d done that night, what really happened,” Connor said.
The encounter between the two was consensual but there were second thoughts and regrets afterwards, Connor told jurors.
He said Wang called police and told them he attempted to rape the woman in order to take responsibility in hopes of repairing whatever damage was caused to her relationship with her boyfriend.
Wang, “threw himself on the sword,” Connor said. “Is that so far-fetched to believe?”
The woman took the stand as the state’s first witness Wednesday and, through the aid of a Mandarin translator, told the court that when she informed Wang she had a boyfriend he told her, “Boyfriends in China cannot be regarded as boyfriends.”
The woman also testified that Wang had touched her inappropriately on at least one occasion before the alleged assault.
The trial is expected to continue until early next week.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.