To the editor:

I have been a trial lawyer for 40 years. For 10 of those years, I was a federal prosecutor. I write in response to Acting DA Caccaviello's Oct. 24 letter to the editor in which he attacks my integrity in a desperate attempt to evade his own office's responsibility to investigate, and where appropriate, prosecute sexual assault cases occurring at Williams College.

But first, let me state my own background. I have litigated civil and criminal cases in Berkshire County. For my work as a federal prosecutor, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded me the Distinguished Service Award, its highest award for trial work which is conferred annually to only a handful of federal prosecutors in the country. I am a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an invitation only organization that is limited to 1 percent of the lawyers in any given state based on an exhaustive investigation of the quality of a lawyer's work and integrity.

In Caccaviello's Oct. 24 letter, he attacks my integrity for statements I made in an August 30 letter to The Eagle concerning his office's failure to prosecute more of the Williams College sexual assault cases. As of August 30, Williams had reported to law enforcement 47 sexual assaults for the years 2014-2016. In his own Oct. 24 letter, Caccaviello fails to even mention that on Oct. 1, 2018, Williams disclosed its sexual assault data for 2017 which combined with its 2014-2016 data, brings the total number of credible reports of sexual assaults at Williams to 73 for those four years.

Caccaviello claims that his office's failure to prosecute any of these 73 sexual assault cases was in deference to the victims' wishes. He makes this claim based on inferences drawn from decisions by Williams not to disclose the names of victims when reporting the crimes to the police. A DA, however, should never delegate its duty to investigate crimes to any private party, including Williams College. But this is exactly what Caccaviello in his letter admits has routinely happened.

Every DA has the power to use a grand jury to subpoena the names of crime victims and other information from private parties. The Berkshire DA uses this power routinely. The DA can then examine the investigative reports, talk privately to the victims, interview witnesses, conduct a forensic analysis, and then decide which cases to prosecute, including giving consideration to a victim who wishes not to proceed with a prosecution.

But Caccaviello just assumes that the victims did not want a criminal investigation because Williams had not provided their names. This is his answer for failing to even investigate the 73 reports of sexual assault at Williams College? Will it be the same story next year when more rapes are surely reported? Yes, apparently, if Caccaviello is elected, because in his letter, he all but pledges to take the same approach.

Caccaviello's cavalier handling of all these serious allegations of sexual assault is one of many reasons why I have supported Andrea Harrington in her campaign. Andrea has deep experience in all aspects of the criminal justice system. She is a problem solver who will not be satisfied with the broken status quo. Andrea Harrington will provide new leadership to an important public Office that desperately needs change, and be a DA of whom everyone can be proud.

John Pucci