Pittsfield man accused of assault to be held at group home


PITTSFIELD >> A city man accused of assaulting an intellectually disabled woman and then violating a restraining order is better served in a supervised group home setting than in jail while his case progresses, a judge has ruled.

Mark Flanagan, 38, has been held since his arraignment last week on a charge he violated a restraining order by attempting to contact the woman he's alleged to have assaulted a little less than 36 hours after the order was issued.

Attorney Ryan D. Smith told Judge Michael Ripps that his client is himself severely developmentally disabled and, "is not the kind of individual who should be in the house of correction."

Smith noted Flanagan has no criminal record, has never been accused of a crime and has been held in a segregated unit at the jail for his own safety.

Prosecutors objected to the proposal, noting the seriousness of the underlying charges and the brief window between the issuance of the order and Flanagan's alleged violation of it.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Amanda Casselman said the state felt the suggested group home in Lanesborough was not secure enough, that it left Flanagan with alternative methods to contact the alleged victim and raised questions about how long it would take to locate Flanagan if he did manage to leave without supervision.

But Smith said Flanagan would be supervised by staff around the clock and the facility itself is locked by staff and alarm systems are in place.

Flanagan is accused of forcing himself upon an intellectually disabled woman and throttling her after she declined to have sex with him.

He pleaded not guilty last Tuesday to charges of assault and battery on a person with an intellectual disability and strangulation. He was released on $500 bail with the conditions he stay away from the alleged victim and to have no contact with her.

But he allegedly visited the woman's home Wednesday night, knocked on the door and announced his presence before eventually leaving without ever entering.

Judge Michael Ripps agreed to allow Flanagan to remain out of jail and under the supervision of the Department of Disability Services while his case progresses. He ordered him to attend any educational programs it recommends, submit to GPS monitoring and stay away from the alleged victim in the cases, among other conditions.

Flanagan is due back in court on March 9 for a pretrial hearing.

Ripp warned against any contact with the alleged victim, including via telephone.

"If that happens, it's over; he's going to jail," Ripps said.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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