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 ran a ( hopeless? 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 4.
Maybe John Pucci is neither a knave nor a fool. He is merely a hired gun, saying whatever his clients want or, much worse, saying whatever he thinks will cause his clients to give him more money. (Informed commentary welcome!) But, surely, we can all agree that this would be a horrible idea?
“But when the district attorney’s office learns that there are as many as 73 sexual assaults that have occurred in the last four years at Williams, they have a duty to investigate,” said Pucci. “And this is not that complicated. It’s stunning to me that Caccaviello can step back and say ‘we inferred they didn’t want to cooperate.’”
Pucci says the DA’s office could have initiated a basic criminal prosecution investigation.
“You contact Williams College. You ask them for their reports and interviews of the victims. If they don’t want to give them to you, you issue a grand jury subpoena,” he said. “The district attorney in Berkshire County has a grand jury standing and available. They issue a simple piece of paper to Williams, Williams gives them the name of the victims, and then they do the basics. The basics are laid out in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security guidelines for sexual assault investigations.”
This is madness! Does Pucci really believe it or is he just saying what his clients want? Or is he just saying what he thinks his clients want to hear?
1) Has any DA in Massachusetts, or in the US, ever done this? Not that I know. (Perhaps former Williams faculty member KC Johnson, co-author of The Campus Rape Frenzy: The Attack on Due Process at America’s Universities, can comment?)
2) What would happen if Harrington did this? I assume that Williams would fight tooth-and-nail. Am I wrong? Perhaps someone at Williams — Meg Bossong ’05? — would like to see more prosecutions of Williams students? Informed commentary welcome!
3) What would happen in the courts? Harrington subpoenas. Williams resists. The judge rules that . . . What do our Eph lawyers think?
4) How does this issue — and her general relationship with Williams College — tie into Harrington’s ambitions? Unlike Caccaviello — a time-serving mediocrity who would have been happy as DA for 20 years — Harrington clearly aspires to greater things. There are two strategies that a backwoods DA might take in climbing the greasy pole of MA Democratic politics: work with powerful local institutions like Williams (in the expectation of future back-scratches in return) or relentlessly attack them in a bid to build name-recognition. Assume that Harrington wants to be a Senator someday. What advice do you have for her?