Four teens indicted by grand jury on aggravated rape charges in UMass case, face life sentences
NORTHAMPTON — The four teens accused of gang-raping a University of Massachusetts freshman in October all face the possibility of life in prison following their indictment by a Hampshire County grand jury Thursday.
Adam Liccardi, Justin King, and Emmanuel Bile, all 18 and from Pittsfield, and Caleb Womack, 17, of Windsor Locks, Conn., each face three counts of aggravated rape resulting from the alleged attack early in the morning of Oct. 13.
Liccardi faces an additional count of rape for allegedly returning to the 18-year-old woman’s room and raping her again after the other three had left.
None of the defendants is a UMass student, according to the university.
All but Liccardi are scheduled to be arraigned in Hampshire Superior Court at 2 p.m. Monday. Liccardi’s arraignment date has not yet been set, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office.
The four teens are accused of coming to the UMass campus against the wishes of the alleged victim, bypassing security and gaining access to her dorm before she arrived.
According to court records, when the victim returned, she agreed to socialize with the group and drank vodka and smoked marijuana with them and two other women.
Later, when the alleged victim was alone with the four teens, one of them turned out the light and the four allegedly attacked her, forcibly removed her clothes, and took turns raping her for hours while she faded in and out of consciousness.
During the alleged assault the woman used the words “no” and “stop,” according to Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl, who is prosecuting the case.
The next day, the woman allegedly asked the defendants for $500 to ensure her silence. Suhl said that request was not an attempt at extortion, but a ruse to convince the suspects she would remain silent while she was in the process of contacting authorities.
Womack’s attorney, Raymond Jacoub of Pittsfield, argued at his client’s bail hearing in October that the incident was not a rape.
Jacoub said that the woman did not use the term “rape” but instead “gang bang” in conversations with his client after that night, which, Jacoub argued in court, was a “euphemistic” term for consensual group sex.
“It was a gross act of bad judgment,” Jacoub said. “Not a sexual assault.”
Bile’s attorney, David A. Pixley of Pittsfield said at his client’s bail review in October that the issue of consent would be used in his defense.
Pixley said precedent allows a defendant’s level of intoxication to be used as a defense if it can be established he could not determine whether consent was given by the alleged victim.
Bail was set in Eastern Hampshire District Court for each of the suspects at $10,000 at their original arraignments.
Bile and Liccardi had their bails reduced in Hampshire Superior Court to $3,500 and $2,500, respectively.
Womack moved to have his bail reduced as well, but that motion was denied by Judge Daniel A. Ford.
Information about whether any of the suspects had posted their bail was not available from the courts Thursday.
Meanwhile, UMass said it plans on hiring an outside consultant to review its residence hall security procedures. That consultant will “identify the strengths and any shortcomings of our current system,” UMass Police Chief John K. Horvath said in a statement. “An independent set of eyes will serve us well.”
Horvath said he expects the consultant to be hired during the spring semester. Proposals are being accepted until Dec. 21 and finalists are expected to be selected by Jan. 7, according to the university.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .