Otis rape case should be in juvenile court, attorneys argue
PITTSFIELD -- A teenager accused of raping a fellow student with a broomstick at an Otis sports camp last summer should be tried as a juvenile, his lawyers argued on Tuesday.
Attorneys for Galileo Mondol, 17, of Somerville, have filed a motion in Berkshire Superior Court seeking to have his indictments dismissed due to a change in state law that prohibits those under the age of 18 from facing further charges as adults.
Mondol, who is facing seven charges in the Aug. 25 incident, was arraigned on Sept. 3 in Central Berkshire District Court -- 15 days before the new law went into effect on Sept. 18. But he wasn't indicted by a Berkshire grand jury until Oct. 30; his arraignment in Superior Court did not come until Nov. 21.
Arguing that the District Court and Superior Court cases were separate proceedings, attorney Sam Zaganjori, of Boston, asked the court to dismiss the charges against his client because the indictments were filed after the new law went into effect.
"There's a new arraignment, a new bail hearing," Zaganjori said. "It's not a seamless transition from one court to another court."
Mondol and two 16-year-old boys, all teammates on the Somerville High School boys' soccer team, are accused of assaulting three freshmen boys on Aug. 25 at Camp Lenox in Otis. The high school's soccer and football teams were attending a team-building exercise at the camp the weekend the incident took place. One of the victims was sexually assaulted with a broomstick, prosecutors have said.
He is charged with several felonies: one count of aggravated rape of a child under age 16, two counts of assault with intent to rape a child under age 16, indecent assault and battery on a person over age 14, and three counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon,
Zaganjori claimed the indictments against Mondol were "invalid" when they were issued. Further, he said, the law should be applied "retroactively" to Mondol's District Court case.
Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini has taken the matter under advisement.
"This seems to be a very unique situation that we have here because of the confluence of so many factors," Agostini said.
Following the hearing, Zaganjori said he would like to see Mondol's case tried in Berkshire Juvenile Court, where the possible penalties against his client would be far less severe.
"Juvenile court judges and juvenile court in general have a broader range of discretion when it comes to a lot of issues, particularly sentencing," Zaganjori said.
"Obviously, we are dealing with children," he said. "He's a 17-year-old kid. Certainly, no one knows how the case is going to resolve. But the flexibility and just the specialized knowledge that the juvenile court has relating to kids is something that would benefit him just as it would any other kid."
Assistant District Attorney Rachel Eramo said the commonwealth believes the criminal proceedings against Mondol began when he was arraigned in District Court on Sept. 3.
"I don't think the legislation was intended to punish the commonwealth whether it chose to go ahead in District Court or Superior Court," Eramo said.
"There's no indication that the court intended to have retroactivity in this law," she said.
Mondol, who had no previous criminal record or prior history of disciplinary problems, is currently free on $100,000 bail. He turned 17 in July, Zaganjori said.
Zaganjori said the defense wants Mondol's case to be tried as "soon as possible," and was willing to waive an indictment against his client if the case can be adjudicated in Berkshire Juvenile Court. A pre-trial conference is scheduled in Superior Court on April 8.
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