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Gang rape allegations shake up UMass Amherst campus

  • Left Claudia Acosta and Jessica Andre, both Sophmores at  Umass,  talk about  dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Left Claudia Acosta and Jessica Andre, both Sophmores at Umass, talk about dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Richard Machado, left, and Paula White, both Umass students talk about  dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Richard Machado, left, and Paula White, both Umass students talk about dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ashleigh Brown, a Stockbridge senior at Umass talks about dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.<br/>“I was shocked only because she knew them. It made it harder to handle.”<br/><br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Ashleigh Brown, a Stockbridge senior at Umass talks about dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.
    “I was shocked only because she knew them. It made it harder to handle.”


    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Left, Reed Fox and Mike Carmasine sophmores at Umass  talk about dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.<br/><br/>“It’s pretty easy, you can just walk in behind someone or someone holds the door for you, people are pretty nice around here like that." Reed Fox. <br/><br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Left, Reed Fox and Mike Carmasine sophmores at Umass talk about dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.

    “It’s pretty easy, you can just walk in behind someone or someone holds the door for you, people are pretty nice around here like that." Reed Fox.


    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Left, Katie Freed and Devin Stearns, both Umass freshmen, talk about   dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS

    Left, Katie Freed and Devin Stearns, both Umass freshmen, talk about dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.

    CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

  • 10/22/12-Belchertown-Staff Photo by Dave Roback-Justin A. King walks in during the arraignment in Belchertown of four Pittsfield teens on alledged rape charges at the UMass-Amherst campus.

    10/22/12-Belchertown-Staff Photo by Dave Roback-Justin A. King walks in during the arraignment in Belchertown of four Pittsfield teens on alledged rape charges at the UMass-Amherst campus. Purchase photo reprints »

  • 10/22/12-Belchertown-Staff Photo by Dave Roback-From left, Caleb Womack, Adam T. Liccardi, and Emmanuel Toffee Bile walk in during the arraignment in Belchertown of four Pittsfield teens on alledged rape charges at the UMass-Amherst campus.

    10/22/12-Belchertown-Staff Photo by Dave Roback-From left, Caleb Womack, Adam T. Liccardi, and Emmanuel Toffee Bile walk in during the arraignment in Belchertown of four Pittsfield teens on alledged rape charges at the UMass-Amherst campus. Purchase photo reprints »

  • In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Caleb Womack, 17, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass.  Womack is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh)

    In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Caleb Womack, 17, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass. Womack is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh) Purchase photo reprints »

  • In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Emmanuel Bile, 18, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass.  Bile is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh)

    In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Emmanuel Bile, 18, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass. Bile is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh) Purchase photo reprints »

  • In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Justin King, 18, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass.  King is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh)

    In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Justin King, 18, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass. King is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh) Purchase photo reprints »

  • In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Adam Licciardi, 18, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass.  Licciardi is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh)

    In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Adam Licciardi, 18, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass. Licciardi is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh) Purchase photo reprints »

  • 10/22/12-Belchertown-Staff Photo by Dave Roback-From left, Caleb Womack, Adam T. Liccardi, and Emmanuel Toffee Bile walk in during the arraignment in Belchertown of four Pittsfield teens on alledged rape charges at the UMass-Amherst campus.

    10/22/12-Belchertown-Staff Photo by Dave Roback-From left, Caleb Womack, Adam T. Liccardi, and Emmanuel Toffee Bile walk in during the arraignment in Belchertown of four Pittsfield teens on alledged rape charges at the UMass-Amherst campus. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Left Claudia Acosta and Jessica Andre, both Sophmores at  Umass,  talk about  dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Richard Machado, left, and Paula White, both Umass students talk about  dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Ashleigh Brown, a Stockbridge senior at Umass talks about dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.<br/>“I was shocked only because she knew them. It made it harder to handle.”<br/><br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Left, Reed Fox and Mike Carmasine sophmores at Umass  talk about dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.<br/><br/>“It’s pretty easy, you can just walk in behind someone or someone holds the door for you, people are pretty nice around here like that." Reed Fox. <br/><br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • Left, Katie Freed and Devin Stearns, both Umass freshmen, talk about   dorm security in relation to the rape last weekend.<br/><br/>CAROL LOLLIS
  • 10/22/12-Belchertown-Staff Photo by Dave Roback-Justin A. King walks in during the arraignment in Belchertown of four Pittsfield teens on alledged rape charges at the UMass-Amherst campus.
  • 10/22/12-Belchertown-Staff Photo by Dave Roback-From left, Caleb Womack, Adam T. Liccardi, and Emmanuel Toffee Bile walk in during the arraignment in Belchertown of four Pittsfield teens on alledged rape charges at the UMass-Amherst campus.
  • In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Caleb Womack, 17, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass.  Womack is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Emmanuel Bile, 18, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass.  Bile is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Justin King, 18, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass.  King is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 photo, Adam Licciardi, 18, of Pittsfield, Mass, appears for arraignment on rape charges in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown, Mass.  Licciardi is one of four Pittsfield teens accused of raping a University of Massachusetts student in her Amherst, Mass., dorm room on Oct. 13. The four pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh)
  • 10/22/12-Belchertown-Staff Photo by Dave Roback-From left, Caleb Womack, Adam T. Liccardi, and Emmanuel Toffee Bile walk in during the arraignment in Belchertown of four Pittsfield teens on alledged rape charges at the UMass-Amherst campus.

University of Massachusetts students said they are “shocked” and “creeped out” by news that four teenagers have been arrested on charges that they gang-raped a woman in her dorm room last week.

Especially frightening, students said, is that the victim was acquainted with her alleged attackers.

“She knew them, she didn’t expect this to happen,” said Jessica Andre, a sophomore from New Jersey. “How do you stop something like that?”

Still, UMass students interviewed Tuesday outside the Southwest Residential Area, said they consider the campus a safe place to live. Chiefly, they said, because none of the alleged rapists attends UMass.

On Monday, Adam Liccardi, 18, Justin King, 18, Caleb Womack, 17, and Emmanuel Bile, 18, all of Pittsfield, were arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court on three to four charges each of rape. Liccardi is a pizza deliverer, King is a cook at a pizza restaurant, Womack is a Springfield Technical Community College student and Bile is a student specializing in electronics, according to the Boston Herald.

“The campus here, these’s a sense of safety. You know the people,” said Katie Freed, a freshman from New York. “Obviously, this is scary, but you know the people don’t live on campus so — that doesn’t justify this — but it’s not as scary as if they were students here.”

UMass students were notified of the sexual assault by the chancellor in a campus-wide email Monday. “While campus security measures have generally proved effective in the past, the university will conduct a comprehensive review of security in our residence halls,” Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy wrote.

According to Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Jennifer Suhl, the men texted the victim before the attack on Oct. 13 and asked to visit her. She said no but they came anyway and entered the woman’s unlocked room while she was not there. The woman is not being identified because it is the Bulletin’s policy not to name victims of alleged rapes or sexual assaults.

When the woman returned to her room, she agreed to socialize with the men, Suhl said. At some point, one of the men turned out the lights and all four attacked her, raping her repeatedly for hours, according to Suhl.

“I was shocked only because she knew them,” said Ashleigh Brown, a senior from Ashfield. “It made it harder to handle.”

Yet, it is common for a woman to know the person sexually abusing her. About 66 percent of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim; 38 percent of the time, the rapist is a friend or acquaintance, according to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).

Other students were disturbed that it seems no one heard the rapes taking place.

“How did something like this happen?” asked Devyn Stearns, a freshman. “You can hear everything through the walls, people talking next door. It’s creepy to know something like this could be happening and you’re in the next room and you don’t know.”

Among the unanswered questions is how the attackers got inside the residential hall. “It’s weird that they were able to get in the dorms,” said Jacob LeBlanc, a freshman from Ludlow. “It’s pretty safe for the most part, except when it’s late.”

At UMass, the residence hall entrances and exits are locked and some of the stairwells inside the buildings are locked as well. Resident students are given swipe-cards and/or keys to access the hall and their rooms. And from about 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., students or guests wishing to enter a building that is not their residence hall have to present a student ID or driver’s license at the manned check-in area and have a resident sign them in before they can enter.

According to Suhl, the victim did not sign her alleged rapists into the dorm, but they were let in by a stranger.

Students said the dorm safety protocols, which they described as adequate, seem to have been followed and that there may not have been anything the university could have done to prevent the attacks.

“You can’t get in unless someone vouches for you,” said Richard Machado, a sophomore from Worcester. “It’s not dorm security’s fault this happened.”

“It’s made me second-guess who I’m signing in,” said Claudia Acosta, a sophomore from New York.

While students said they do not think dorm security needs an upgrade, some noted that it can be easy to get around safeguards and enter without signing in.

“It’s pretty easy. You can just walk in behind someone or someone holds the door for you — people are pretty nice around here like that,” said Reed Fox, a sophomore form New York.

“This shouldn’t have happened,” Fox continued, “but I don’t think it would be worth the hassle to increase security. There isn’t much that’s going to prevent something like this, no matter what the security is.”

Freed said she has noticed an increased level of security recently in her residence hall. Police have been stationed in the building and residential assistants have been knocking on doors, reaching out to students in need of counseling.

“Security has been tight,” said Freed adding that she was unsure why the police presence had increased over the last week until the chancellor’s email went out Monday.

Some students said the gang-rape is a warning to women to protect themselves when they go out partying, although it is not clear whether the victim or the alleged perpetrators attended any parties that night. The victim did, however, consume alcohol that night, Suhl said.

“I always go out with a group of girls, so for us this doesn’t change, but you always have to have a sober friend with you,” said Jessica Andre. “You have to stick together.”

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