10/23/2012 11:17 am ET

Alleged Gang Rape At UMass Amherst Leads To 4 Arrests

Editor's Note: This article was reprinted with permission from the Massachusetts Daily Collegian. Readers can find a longer version on the student newspaper's website.

Four Pittsfield, Mass. teens were arrested and charged with raping an 18-year-old female University of Massachusetts student in her campus dormitory, university officials said.

The alleged perpetrators, none of whom are UMass students, have been identified as Emmanuel Bile, 18, Justin King, 18, Adam Liccardi, 18, and Caleb Womack, 17. The incident occurred during the early hours of Oct. 13, and the men were arrested in Pittsfield last Friday.

All four were arrested on three counts of rape, with Liccardi receiving an additional charge. They have pled not guilty to all counts.

The incident occurred in the alleged victim’s residence hall room, officials said. The specific dormitory and the alleged victim’s collegiate year were not identified by the UMass Police Department or University officials.

At the arraignment, Suhl said that on Friday, Oct. 12, the four men, who are said to have been known to the alleged victim, texted the alleged victim requesting to visit her at UMass. At that point, the alleged victim told them she did not want them to come.

Despite her request, the alleged perpetrators came to the University, texting her once more to try to ask her for permission to visit. Her phone had died, so she did not receive the text message. Three of the four men were signed into the residence hall by a stranger, Suhl said. How the fourth man entered the building is still being investigated, according to UMass Police Chief John Horvath.

The suspects then went to the alleged victim’s room and waited for her to arrive, Suhl said.

When she later found them in her room, she was initially “OK” with socializing with them, according to Suhl.

The defense attorneys cited the police and said that the alleged victim said she had consumed eight to nine shots of alcohol, a couple of beers and had smoked marijuana by that point in the evening.

The prosecutor said that one of the men turned off the lights and the men then stripped the alleged victim before raping her repeatedly. Liccardi stayed in the dorm room after the other three had left and raped the alleged victim again, Suhl said.

Bile texted the alleged victim the next morning looking for Liccardi, the prosecutor said. She responded to the text saying the men raped her the night before.

According to Suhl, Bile then apologized to the victim, saying he was sorry and she did not deserve what happened. The victim texted Bile that she would not report the incident if they each paid her $500, which they agreed to, according to the prosecutor.

The defense attorneys attempted to use this demand as a leverage point to convince the judge to free their clients on bail.

The prosecutor argued the alleged victim never intended to go through with such a bargain, and had made the demand as a “safety tactic” because she feared the men would harm her if they believed she was going to report the incident to police.

The victim reported the incident to UMPD about 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 14. Five days later, the accused men were arrested in separate locations in Pittsfield, officials said.

Horvath said the time lapse occurred because the “well-being and mental and physical care of the victim is a priority.”

UMPD did “an exhausting investigation,” Horvath said. “This was an excellent job responding to a terrible incident.”

At a press conference held yesterday afternoon, Northwestern District Attorney Dave Sullivan praised the alleged victim for coming forward and seeking help from authorities.

“We’ll be working on this case through the next coming weeks,” Sullivan said. “We’ll be working overzealously to bring these men to justice.”

In an email to the campus community yesterday, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy wrote that “maintaining a safe learning and living community is of the most importance of our campus.” He reiterated this sentiment at the press conference.

He also said the victim and her family are receiving help from University resources, including the Center for Women and Community.

Gelaye said it was important that the University ensure the victim could “exist in this environment.”

She also said that current security procedures, including signing guests in, may be under review.

“It would not be unprecedented for the University to review the sign in procedure,” Gelaye said. “We’re reviewing this incident exclusively and then on a broader scale, we’re going to look at all residential hall procedures.”

This is the second time within the last two years that University administration has formally announced comprehensive reviews of its policies in the aftermath of an alleged rape. In 2010, University officials admitted to improperly sanctioning a student who allegedly confessed to raping a 2009 UMass graduate in her on-campus residence.

This prompted the University to create a special commission to begin preliminary moves toward amending the Student Code of Conduct, particularly regarding its sexual misconduct policies. The commission looked to develop minimum sanctions for perpetrators of serious offenses. A change recommended by the committee allowing for alleged victims to appeal alleged perpetrators’ sanctions is currently listed in this year’s Student Code of Conduct.

The alleged victim in the 2010 incident was reportedly raped in the North Apartments, and the alleged confessed rapist was given a deferred suspension. The punishment was not seen as severe enough by campus community members and others across the state when The Boston Globe and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting broke the story that year.

In 2011, five forcible rapes were reported on the UMass campus, four of which were in residence halls, according to the Annual Security Report for 2011 published by the UMPD. In 2010, three forcible rapes were reported on campus, all of which occurred in the residence halls.

University officials are instructing UMass students in need of support to call the CWC, which provides free and confidential crisis services for the entire campus, at 545-0800.

Read more in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.