- EphBlog - http://ephblog.com -

Reunion Rape, 1

The election for Berkshire District Attorney has generated lots of discussion (here, here, here and here) at EphBlog. Especially interesting have been the comments (e.g., here) from Interloper, who really ought to join us as an author. Andrea Harrington won the primary but incumbent Paul Caccaviello is running a (hopeless?) write-in campaign. What matters to us, however, are these news stories about an (alleged) rape at reunion in 2016. As one of the four highest profile sexual assaults cases at Williams in the last 20 years — the other three are Gensheimer/Foster, Brackenridge and Safety Dance — this merits a week’s worth of discussion. Day 1.

The accusation:

“I was involved in a case in which I represented a woman who was sexually assaulted at Williams. Let me back up a step and say that I don’t want to make this interview about a single case. I think there’s a much broader and bigger picture of what’s happening at Williams College that really needs to come to light and be focused on,” Pucci told WAMC. “There was a rape at Williams College. The victim and her husband came to me because they were unsatisfied with what was happening at the DA’s office — there was a lack of communication.”

He said they approached him to serve as a lawyer and councilor to ensure their voices were heard.

“From the beginning, the district attorney’s office feigned an interest and oversaw a faux investigation in which barely half of the witnesses were identified, in which my client had had a physical rape exam and it had found a vaginal tear, a very significant finding, and the district attorney’s office would not complete the forensic testing in the case,” said Pucci.

1) Recall that I accused Pucci of being “either a knave or a fool” I was wrong! He is getting paid (big bucks?) to involve himself in this case.

2) I believe — corrections welcome — that the case involves three people from the class of 1991, back at Williams in June 2016 for their 25th year reunion. I think that the alleged assault took place in the Greylock dorms.

There is a lot to unpack here, which is why we will have a week of discussion.

UPDATE: Latest news article here.

14 Comments (Open | Close)

14 Comments To "Reunion Rape, 1"

#1 Comment By Johnny On November 5, 2018 @ 8:52 am

Why is the Record silent about this?

#2 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On November 5, 2018 @ 8:56 am

The Record is not so much “silent” — aware of the story (and its importance) and making a conscious choice not to cover it — as it is incompetent.

#3 Comment By frank uible On November 5, 2018 @ 2:30 pm

What better way to celebrate Reunion?

#4 Comment By PhantomJ On November 5, 2018 @ 3:10 pm

Well, I hate to say I told you so…but I told you so. Suspected this was going to get ugly based upon everything that has come up during our DA’s race. There had to be a reason that the Williams rape statistics and lack of prosecutions became such a big issue. Now we know why.

That news article you linked at the end has 25 pages of documents attached in the middle of it. They load very slowly, but they have a lot of information in them. This situation looks very bad. Apparently the incident took place outside on a field called Poker Flats.

The most important thing I saw in those docs is that Pucci’s co-counsel includes Thomas Frongillo from Boston, Linda Fairstein from NYC, and Tom Lesser from Northampton, MA. These are not second-rate attorneys to put it mildly.

There is also another story on that Greylock Glass website along with a letter to the Editor from Fairstein.

It looks like the Berkshire DA’s office violated the law by refusing retain the evidence in the case. DA Paul Cacaviello has claimed several times in interviews that it was Pucci who wanted the evidence back. That appears to be completely false.

Yes, ugly indeed.

#5 Comment By Dick Swart On November 5, 2018 @ 4:57 pm

Topics such as campus architectural worth and integrity, the Honor Code, grade inflation, and new class student selection are of interest to those who have lived through other experiences of these same subjects.

However of common interest these topics may be, there does seem to be a drip drip drip of poison into the ear of the reader. Perhaps the dosage has just been increased in this new five-part series. I find that the result of exposure to these applications is one of negativity to Williams and the administration, and a diminishing of the trust in the office of the president. Surely this can’t be what Epgblog is about.

As an attendee at our 60th reunion in 2016, I can report that our end of the campus was quiet, decorous, and definitely pro-Williams.

#6 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On November 5, 2018 @ 7:48 pm

It looks like the Berkshire DA’s office violated the law by refusing retain the evidence in the case.

That seems like nonsense to me.

1) It is part of the political push to get rid of Caccaviello.

2) It is part of a political push by Pucci to get the DA to act.

3) What possible motivation does the DA have to break the law? That makes zero sense, even if you think (as I do!) that Caccaviello is a mediocrity.

4) DA’s don’t retain evidence! Police hold evidence.

#7 Comment By frank uible On November 5, 2018 @ 8:12 pm

Always remain skeptical of authority and its motives. Just when one believes authority deserves to be trusted, it reaches around and bites.

#8 Comment By fendertweed On November 5, 2018 @ 8:21 pm

Let me take a shot based on ~30 years working in and around the criminal justice system, 20+ as a manager in a federal LE organization.

1. Incompetence – the DA needs no “motivation” necessarily. They may well be just sloppy or ill informed or incompetent. I saw enough prosecutors fitting that description.

2. Prosecutors may retain evidence at various points in the process.

3. This appears to be a real clusterfuck throughout the investigation.

4. The political motivations may be in play. But I don’t need to know anything about that to see what appears to be a horribly mismanaged process (particularly re destroying evidence after failing to interview relevant witnesses named in the correspondence).

I have no idea what happened between the parties, but as soon as I hear that known named witnesses were not interviewed by police or prosecutors before evidence was destroyed, alarm bells go off… it corrupts the entire investigation’s integrity.

#9 Comment By fendertweed On November 5, 2018 @ 8:29 pm

P.s., it certainly looks to me, based on my brief reading, that the DA violated the law here … incompetently or otherwise

#10 Comment By David Dudley Field ’25 On November 5, 2018 @ 8:31 pm

fendertweed: Please explain! The police store evidence on a permanent basis. Yes, I guess, prosecutors may take possession from time to time. But, to the extent anyone is responsible for keeping anything for 15 years — especially for a case in which no charges were filed — it is the police. There isn’t some backroom in the Berkshire DA office where they keep stuff . . .

#11 Comment By fendertweed On November 5, 2018 @ 8:36 pm

I’ve never visited the Berkshire DA. ;-)

Most I’m familiar with have evidence lockers as part of chain of custody, if needed at certain times. They don’t have to walk to the evidence locker every time they want certain evidence in an active case.

Generally, yes, evidence is in the police evidence locker, but it can be signed out through chain of custody and be in secure storage in, e.g., a DA office if local facilities and practice permit.

YMMV in Berkshire Co.

#12 Comment By PhantomJ On November 5, 2018 @ 8:38 pm

David – It may seem like nonsense to you, but that’s because you do not know the law. There is a state law in Massachusetts that the physical evidence in rape cases must be maintained by the authorities for 15 years, the full statute of limitations of the law, without exception. The reasons should be self-evident.

Did you read the documents in the Pucci case? He asked the DA and the Williamstown Police Department to retain the evidence multiple times. They said no. He received a response that the WPD and the DA’s Office had together decided to “respectfully” decline his request.

Caccaviello was the direct recipient of one of the emails from Pucci. Which makes it very troubling that in the last few weeks he has stated multiple times on the record that it was Pucci who requested the evidence back, and that his office and the WPD were willing to maintain custody.

That is a blatant lie. It’s right there in the docs.

As for the motivation of a DA to break the law, use your imagination. It is clear from the docs and his interview that Pucci is alleging that the investigation was fraudulent. Well, one way to help make sure that a fraudulent investigation never sees the light of day is to destroy the evidence. And breaking the chain of custody of evidence is the same thing as destroying it.

I don’t think you Williams folk know much about former DA David Capeless if you are surprised by the possibility of unethical behavior by his office.

#13 Comment By fendertweed On November 5, 2018 @ 8:48 pm

To clarify what may be unclear just above… the DA (where they have an evidence locker (short term usually)), may not have to go to the PD evidence locker each time… this isn’t the long term storage locker, that should be the PD.

Legally, tge key is maintaining chain of custody and security (wherever the evidence goes, e.g., to a lab, etc.).

#14 Comment By PhantomJ On November 5, 2018 @ 9:42 pm

The reporter in that article, Eoin Higgins, also said the victim’s identity had been disclosed to him “unprompted” by the DA’s office.

That is a big no no, a violation of a criminal statute punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine. If it was disclosed incidentally it would probably result in a fine, but if it was disclosed in an attempt to harm the victim the leaker could be looking at jail time. Probably the former, but who knows given the corruption in that office.

One thing seems clear to me. This case is almost 2 and 1/2 years old. If the victim has been fighting that long and the story is only coming out now, there is probably a lot of pent-up anger. It’s still speculation at this point but I believe this may only be the tip of the iceberg.