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Berkshire DA Race

Letter to the editor in the Eagle:

This letter is in response to a letter to the editor of The Berkshire Eagle in August of this year. The letter, authored by John Pucci, a donor to my opponent, claimed that the Berkshire district attorney failed to investigate or prosecute over 40 cases of sexual assault reported by Williams College between 2014 and 2016.

The allegations in this letter were extremely disturbing as they are completely contrary to the mission of the office and goal of protecting victims. I contacted both Williams College and the Williamstown Police Department to begin an inquiry into the matter and found that Mr. Pucci’s claims were not only without merit, but misleading, ill-informed, and insensitive to victims.

What I discovered was that the majority of the information provided by Williams College to the Williamstown Police Department did not contain sufficient data to permit a thorough investigation by law enforcement.

We in the DA’s office fully respect the rights of victims who chose to remain anonymous and not move forward with an investigation and we understand that the college also has an obligation to provide a safe atmosphere for its students to speak freely. What is disappointing, and irresponsible, is that Mr. Pucci chose to blame the Berkshire district attorney’s office for the nature of Williams College’s public disclosures of sexual violence. Politicizing this issue was not ” just politics” — it is just wrong.

Paul Caccaviello,

Pittsfield

The writer is Berkshire district attorney and is running as a write-in candidate for election on Nov. 6.

1) Caccaviello is 100% correct. If Williams College won’t report the names of alleged victims or perpetrators, there is hardly anything that the DA or police can do.

2) Williams is 100% correct to not report things to police against the wishes of alleged victims. It is their decision to make.

3) John Pucci is either a knave or a fool.

4) Any comments on the DA race? See here for previous coverage and related links. Does Caccaviello have a chance? I doubt it. Write in candidates (almost) never win. Is there any scenario in which Andrea Harrington is not the next Berkshire DA?

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3 Comments To "Berkshire DA Race"

#1 Comment By PhantomJ On October 28, 2018 @ 11:24 am

Your comments are incredibly ignorant. It is apparent that you have not been following this closely. It has become a central issue to the DA’s race, and the information that has come to light is appalling.

There is a reason that despite 90 rape and 109 sexual assault allegations at Williams since 2010, only one case has made it in front of a grand jury. Part of the explanation traces back to people like you, who will blindly accept any explanation that claims to be “victim-focused” without considering any of the nuances involved.

The letter from Caccaviello is littered with mis-statements, including quotes that were taken wholly out of context. Same thing as lying.

The previous DA had this to say about sexual assault a few years back: “Right from the beginning, if a girl complains, college security notifies the police, the police notifies my office. And the school will pursue it. My understanding from talking to [Williamstown Police] Chief [Kyle] Johnson is that when [Williams] gets incidents, they report it to the police. Even when the victim doesn’t want to talk to the police, they tell the police just so they know.”

Dean Sarah Bolton wrote this around the same time: “As is true nationally, most survivors at Williams choose not to pursue a police investigation. Even when that’s the case, we notify the Williamstown Police Department as soon as a report comes to us, without sharing the survivor’s name. This is our automatic practice: We immediately notify police of every report of sexual assault made to us. We then encourage all reporting students to pursue a police investigation…”

Multiple victims have come forward to say that is completely false, that the College actively discouraged them from going to the police.

There much info to which you are apparently completely oblivious. If you want to learn more about it, that’s your business. But whether you do or not, before you celebrate the logic of that Caccaviello letter to the Editor, you should consider this: Even in its most favorable possible reading, ignoring the mis-statements and lies, that statement says that the Berkshire DA’s office farmed out its law enforcement responsibilities to Williams College where sexual assaults were concerned. They did not make even a perfunctory effort to look into these types allegations. As soon as the College told them the victim wanted to remain anonymous, they used it as cover to justify doing NOTHING. And now claim it was all done out of respect for victims.

We local know that the Berkshire DA’s office is filled with sub-standard attorneys. Half of them have Berkshire Community College and Western New England College of Law on their resumes. That may sound elitist, but too bad. I have looked up the background of John Pucci, the lawyer you mocked, and let’s just say his credentials are stronger. I suspect he would not approach this lightly.

#2 Comment By anon On October 28, 2018 @ 3:22 pm

Phantom-

“The letter from Caccaviello is littered with mis-statements, including quotes that were taken wholly out of context. Same thing as lying.”

Please point out where the mis-statements are, because it appears that you and Caccaviello are essentially saying the same thing- that criminal complaints normally not filed with police when students report sexual assaults on campus to administrators.

Do the victims file a criminal complaint with police or not? How many? How many actual complaints did the DA get?

You cannot just invent crimes without victims.

“What I discovered was that the majority of the information provided by Williams College to the Williamstown Police Department did not contain sufficient data to permit a thorough investigation by law enforcement.”

This appears to be true.

Under Title IX and the Clery Act, the names of the people involved in the allegations (victim, suspect, witnesses) are not reported unless the victim files a complaint. The police only know that there was an incident, the general time of the incident, the general location, and the nature of the incident.

Police do not have the information required to conduct an investigation or charge a person with a crime. They do not have a victim…

You can only file a criminal complaint if you are the actual victim of this crime. It appears that these incidents at Williams are hardly ever reported as crimes by the victims.

That is not the fault of the police or the DA…

#3 Comment By PhantomJ On November 1, 2018 @ 1:32 am

anon – Your response is facile nonsense. I wasn’t sure quite how to respond to you, but it looks like the “knave or a fool” John Pucci did it for me.

http://www.wamc.org/post/attorney-claims-berkshire-das-negligent-handling-williams-college-sexual-assault-reports

I read the article, listened to the full interview and clicked through all the hyperlinks. Right about when I finished, another article came out.

https://www.greylockglass.com/2018/10/31/berkshire-da-handling-of-sexual-assault-evidence-under-fire/

I predict this is going to get ugly. And even if it doesn’t, your response is dim and offensive.