Notwithstanding DDF’s concerns that the Record would not cover the the Bae ’17 rape verdict, the paper published a solid, if not particularly probing, story about it last week.  While many of the details reported in the Record have been reported elsewhere, I think it was useful for the Williams community to have it in the Record, as more community members are likely to see those details in the Record than elsewhere.

The paper gave a basic recap of the procedural history of the case, before giving a brief synopsis of the assault itself:

On Sept. 6, the Berkshire Superior Court convicted Yoonsang Bae ’17 on one count of rape.

Judge Michael Callan found him guilty, after a bench trial, of sexually assaulting another student while he was attending the College in 2014. His ultimate conviction was the product of several years of investigation, including his two-year suspension from the College between 2014 and 2016. Bae will be sentenced by Callan on Friday and he faces up to 20 years in prison.

In July 2014, Bae provided large quantities of alcohol to a then-19-year-old student while at a party. She became sick several times, and he ultimately led her back to his room, where she fell asleep. When she awoke, he was assaulting her, and he refused to stop despite her repeated insistence.

The Record also gave some details about the College’s procedures when investigating an allegation of sexual misconduct and/or assault.  While some of this is undoubtedly known to some EphBlog readers, I thought it interesting that the College hires an outside investigator, who then presents findings to a three-member panel of College staff (not students or faculty).  From this description, I assume anyone who is eligible to vote at faculty meetings is ineligible to serve on one of these panels, but that is not 100% clear from the article.

(Full details on the procedures are found here.  These are probably worth blogging about in the future.  Although interesting, I think it was appropriate for this Record article not to delve into the procedures, though it might make for an interesting investigative piece at some point).

Another interesting item from the Record article is the fact that Bae was offered a plea in which he ultimately could have avoided a criminal conviction.  If this is true, it was obviously a terrible mistake for him to turn that plea down.  I wonder why he did so?  Did he really feel as though he hadn’t done anything criminal, and didn’t want to admit to something he thought he hadn’t done?  Or was he sufficiently confident in his own ability to tell the story of what happened in a way favorable to him?  Or confident in the inability of the victim to tell her story persuasively?  Regardless of the reason for turning down the deal, he must be regretting that now.

Finally, the article provides this interesting quote from the District Attorney’s office about new prosecution priorities for the new Berkshire County DA:

“We did not necessarily change any formal office policies regarding sexual assault on college campuses [in the new administration],” said Andy McKeever, public information officer at the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office. “However, District Attorney Andrea Harrington has placed a priority on pursuing these cases aggressively. If a victim wants to go to trial we are going to fully support the victim and pursue justice.”

I wonder whether the DA’s office is really as passive as it sounds in making these decisions on whether (i.e. simply asking the victim “What do you want to do?”, as opposed to seeking to persuade the victim of a particular course of action in a particular case).  From my perspective, while the victim’s wishes are an important factor in whether to prosecute (and without a victim’s cooperation, prosecution may be essentially impossible), I would hope that the DA’s office will make those prosecution decisions independently, weighing all of the factors in making those choices.

UPDATE:  The Berkshire Eagle reports that Bae has been sentenced to a 3-year prison term:

 Minutes after apologizing for the pain he’d caused his victim and those around him, a former Williams College student was sentenced to three years in prison for raping a classmate in 2014…

Before the brief hearing got underway, Bae’s attorney, Charles Dolan, asked the judge if his client, in shackles and a white jumpsuit, could be uncuffed and join him at the defense table rather than the defendant’s seat.

Callan denied that request…

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Stephanie Ilberg asked Callan to consider a prison sentence of five to seven years. Ilberg noted Bae has no prior criminal record but said he was someone the victim had trusted and considered something of a mentor or “big brother.”

“Yes, she chose to drink,” Ilberg said. “She didn’t choose to get raped.”

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