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Reunion Rape, 5

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 5.

Good news or bad news for Williams?

Policies in the DA’s office around assault and rape, particularly at Williams, became an issue in the DA primary campaign over the summer when allegations surfaced of prosecutorial dismissiveness for rape allegations at Williams. The school reported the existence of allegation of over 40 rapes and assaults in recent years to police, but only one case was prosecuted by the DA’s office. Andrea Harrington, the Democratic nominee, and her allies see that as part of a history of looking the other way by the office, particularly at concerns incidents at the college.

Harrington announced in August that, if elected, she would “review all un-indicted complaints of sexual assault received by the District Attorney’s office in the last 15 years, including processing all untested rape kits.” Such a proposal would require a lot of work and would likely include a review of the conduct of the office with respect to a local college and law enforcement handling of evidence.

“I will make sure that we do a complete and thorough review of all rape and sexual assault cases which are within the 15 year statute of limitations,” Harrington said in a statement to The Greylock Glass.

1) Unless I am mistaken, there has no been a case of “stranger” rape at Williams in several decades, if ever. That is, every reported sexual assault has included the name of the alleged perpetrator (or has been a case in which the alleged victim knew the name of her attacker and declined to provide it). In other words, “processing all untested rape kits” is a giant waste of time, but does serve as a signal to all Harrington’s progressive supporters that she is one of them.

2) To the extent that this also refers to sexual assault cases in which the attacker is unknown, it might make sense. Indeed, it might make sense for Harrington to enlist some Williams faculty and students in the search because her small office may lack the resources for work like this:

In an astonishing bit of work, police were able to track down the man they suspect of being the Golden State Killer after matching his DNA with the DNA of distant relatives thanks to a commercial genetics testing company.

Wouldn’t it be cool if Williams could help Harrington bring some rapists to justice? On this surely all Ephs can agree.

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Reunion Rape, 4

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?

Background: WW points out that the details of the accusation are horrific (pdf). Key points:

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Reunion Rape, 3

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 3.

There is no doubt that the alleged victim and her husband are spending serious money in their quest for justice.

Reading from a statement, Caccaviello told WAMC that the Williamstown Police Department conducted a more than two-month investigation that included interviews with 23 witnesses — 10 of which he said were named by Pucci.

“Prosecutors are duty bound to bring a charge only when there is evidence to support the allegation,” said Caccaviello. “Experienced prosecutors and law enforcement reviewed the matter and concluded that there was not a reasonable basis to bring a charge.”

The timing is unclear (to me).

1) When was the assault reported?

2) Why was the rape kit collected at Mt. Sinai (in NYC?) instead of near Williamstown?

3) When did the investigation start?

4) What are the basic facts of the case? I suspect (but do not know) that this is a classic he-said/she-said case in which no one disputes that two people went somewhere alone and then had sex. The debate is over the existence, or lack thereof, of consent.

5) Eoin Higgins has provided some impressive coverage of this case. The Record ought to, at least, interview him.

Side note:

The school reported the existence of allegation of over 40 rapes and assaults in recent years to police, but only one case was prosecuted by the DA’s office. Andrea Harrington, the Democratic nominee, and her allies see that as part of a history of looking the other way by the office, particularly at concerns incidents at the college.

Which case was “prosecuted by the DA’s office?” I have not heard anything about a sexual assault prosecution involving Williams since Gensheimer/Foster.

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Reunion Rape, 2

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 2.

Gossip about this event has been swirling around Williams ever since it occurred. I first heard about it in February 2017. An anonymous alum wrote me:

The reason I have been looking into Falk’s background is that something terrible happened at reunion this past June, involving allegations of sexual assault and rape of an inebriated Alumnus. The accused – her former classmate – is one of the wealthiest members and single largest donors in their Williams class. Suffice it to say that Adam Falk’s response (or lack thereof) has not pleased the victim or her husband (also an Alum in the same class). Understanding what motivates Falk (money, money, money), and getting a better sense of his personal morality goes a long way in explaining his behavior.

1) I suspect that this alleged assault was behind some of the cryptic comments made at EphBlog which connected the resignation of the previous DA, David Capeless, to Falk’s departure. I still think this claimed connection is nonsense. Falk was on his way out. This controversy played no role. (Contrary opinions welcome!)

2) You only truly understand a controversy if you can make the best possible case for both sides. Can you pass the ideological Turing Test? In this case, the key dispute is over the alleged sexual assault. Is the Williams alumna telling the truth or is she not? Make the best possible case for each side in the comments.

3) Should we use the names of the people involved? EphBlog would certainly never publish (without her consent) the name of someone who reported a sexual assault to the police. But what about the accused, someone who is, by all accounts, a fairly prominent member of the class of 1991? What about the husband of the alleged victim? He is neither victim nor accused, but he is (?) also a key part of this story. He may or may not share the last name of the alleged victim.

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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.

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