UMass rape suspects: Two have prior run-ins with the law
PITTSFIELD -- Following the arraignments of four Pittsfield teenagers for the alleged rape of a University of Massachusetts-Amherst student in her dorm room earlier this month, details about some of the accused are emerging, including the prior arrests of two of them.
Before his arrest on the rape charge on Friday, Adam T. Liccardi, 18, of New Hampshire Avenue, was already facing a felony charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for allegedly running a man down with his car during an argument in August 2011.
Liccardi, along with 18-year-olds Emmanuel Bile Jr. and Justin King and 17-year-old Caleb Womack, are being held on $10,000 cash or $100,000 bond following their arraignments Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on rape charges. All four were arrested separately in Pittsfield on Friday.
Police say the teens sexually assaulted an 18-year-old UMass-Amherst student around 1 a.m. on Oct. 13. Authorities said the teenagers aren't students at the university but the victim knew them.
Bile, of Garfield Street, attended Herberg Middle School, where he made the honor roll several semesters, and then Pittsfield High School where he graduated in 2011.
A Pittsfield High student who remembered Bile described him on Tuesday as a "nice, smart kid, who was always friendly."
One Pittsfield High student said he heard about the assault during history class and was "shocked" to hear Bile was arrested in connection with an alleged rape.
A Garfield Street neighbor described Bile as "a good kid" who had "just fell into the wrong crowd."
It's not clear if Liccardi, King and Womack graduated high school in Pittsfield.
Womack's family is originally from Connecticut, according to The Republican newspaper in Springfield. Womack's attorney told The Eagle that his client is on an academic scholarship to Springfield Technical Community College.
A New Hampshire Avenue neighbor described Liccardi as "a quiet kid that kept mostly to himself."
"We'd nod and wave politely in passing but that was about it," another neighbor said.
Neighbors said Liccardi and Bile were often seen together in the New Hampshire Avenue neighborhood. Few details could be obtained about King and Womack, including where they lived in Pittsfield.
Liccardi's other case stems from an alleged attack on a Lee man on Aug. 18, 2011, at the end of New Hampshire Avenue near Tyler Street Extension. Around 10 that night, Pittsfield Police responded to the area and found Richard M. Crapo lying injured on a curb.
Liccardi fled the scene, but returned and spoke with police. Liccardi told authorities that a group of people -- including Crapo -- cornered him because he owed them money. Liccardi said he got scared, and when he was trying to get away, he accidentally drove his 2005 Hyundai Elantra into Crapo. Witnesses alleged Liccardi hit Crapo intentionally.
Liccardi has pleaded not guilty to a single count of assault and battery with the car and was out on personal recognizance at the time of the alleged rape. He is scheduled for a Feb. 19 Jury of Six trial in Central Berkshire District Court in the assault and battery case.
Crapo, who is now 35, was taken to Berkshire Medical Center where his injuries were treated.
Two months prior to the August 2011 incident, Liccardi and his current codefendant, Bile, were charged with trespassing for allegedly driving a car onto the baseball field at Clapp Park and tearing up the turf. Liccardi, who was the driver, according to police, also was charged with wanton destruction of property under $250.
Liccardi pleaded to facts sufficient for a finding of guilt. His case was continued without a finding of guilt and was dismissed after he paid a $250 fine.
Bile, who police said was a passenger in the car, had his case dismissed at the request of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office.
King and Womack show no criminal records listed at Central Berkshire District Court in Pittsfield.
On Tuesday, Bile's attorney, David Pixley, said that his client has pleaded not guilty to the rape charge, but wouldn't say more about his client since "the case is in its initial phase."
Pixley did discuss Monday's arraignment before Judge Mary Hurley in which he and attorney Raymond J. Jacoub, representing Womack, asked the judge to recuse herself believing she had already made her mind up about bail before hearing the defense attorney's arguments.
The judge wouldn't go along with a bail agreement between the defense attorneys and the Northwestern District Attorney's Office and stated as much before the defense attorneys had a chance to argue the request. The judge called the circumstances presented at the arraignment "an egregious recounting of the facts."
"I felt we didn't get a fair hearing," said Pixley.
According to Jacoub, Womack "maintains his innocence," and has no criminal record.
The attorney said that at Monday's arraignment he asked the judge to consider a lower bail since Womack "posed no threat to the complaining witness" or the community and wasn't a flight risk.
The judge did not agree and set bail at $10,000 cash or $100,000 bond for each defendant. Each also must wear a GPS tracking device if any post bail. All four remain in jail.
The alleged victim was granted an emergency restraining order against the four teens. A hearing to extend the order is scheduled for Nov. 1.
Both Pixley and Jacoub are from Berkshire County and are being privately retained. They said they were still discussing whether to move for a Superior Court bail review.
According to a court clerk at Eastern Hampshire District Court, the files related to this case have been impounded by the judge. The Eagle was told by the clerk that none of the documents will be made available unless a motion is filed, heard in court and approved by the judge. The Eagle has filed a motion and it could be heard as soon as Nov. 1.
Police said the attack happened after someone else signed the teenagers into the dorm on the UMass campus in Amherst. A prosecutor said Monday in court that the defendants texted the victim and said they wanted to go over but she said no. The prosecutor said the four showed up anyway and let themselves into her room before she returned home and agreed to spend time with them. All five were drinking alcohol, and the victim smoked marijuana, authorities said.
The prosecutor said the sexual assaults began after one defendant turned off the light while the others stripped off the woman's clothes.
Defense lawyers said in court that there was a text message exchange between the victim and one of the defendants the next day in which she said she wanted money or would go to police. But the prosecutor said that was the victim's tactic for making the defendants think she wouldn't report the attack.
The victim reported the rape at 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 14, UMass Amherst police Chief John Horvath said.
There wasn't any damage to the victim's dorm room door that would indicate forcible entry, and there didn't appear to be signs of a struggle in her room, he said.
Bile and King have public Twitter accounts, and tweeted between Oct. 13, the day of the alleged rape, and last Thursday, a day before their arrests. There have been no Tweets by them since the 18th.
On the day of the alleged rape, Bile tweeted "Crazzy ass night #finallyhome," which was retweeted once, by King.
On Oct. 15, King tweeted: "Done with drinking till I get my life back on track #OnlyPushesMeDown" and "Mistake after mistake." On Oct. 18, Bile, whose Twitter profile is "enjoy life," tweeted, "Life need a rewind button."
The defendants are scheduled to be back in court on Dec. 10, but the case is expected to go to Superior Court.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.