Ex-Williams student sentenced to 3 years in prison for rape on campus
PITTSFIELD — Minutes after apologizing for the pain he'd caused his victim and those around him, a former Williams College student was sentenced to three years in prison for raping a classmate in 2014.
Yoonsang Bae, 27, of Boston, was convicted of one count of rape following a two-day, jury-waived trial before Judge Michael Callan, who found Bae guilty on Sept. 13. He was held in custody pending Monday's sentencing hearing in Berkshire Superior Court.
Before the brief hearing got underway, Bae's attorney, Charles Dolan, asked the judge if his client, in shackles and a white jumpsuit, could be uncuffed and join him at the defense table rather than the defendant's seat.
Callan denied that request.
Bae raped a then-19-year-old woman at a dorm room in July 2014 after the two had been drinking during a weekend visit to the campus. Bae was staying on campus for a summer research project in late July 2014 when the victim visited a group of mutual friends, including Bae.
Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Stephanie Ilberg asked Callan to consider a prison sentence of five to seven years. Ilberg noted Bae has no prior criminal record but said he was someone the victim had trusted and considered something of a mentor or "big brother."
"Yes, she chose to drink," Ilberg said. "She didn't choose to get raped."
The victim, who did not appear in court, submitted a statement which Ilberg read aloud into the record. In it, the woman described feeling confused and terrified as she realized she had been raped.
She went to describe feeling guilt, shame and self-hatred in the aftermath of the assault, including the pain of the medical exam she underwent and the social alienation she suffered. The emotional weight of the assault led her to contemplate suicide, according to her statement.
She said she chose to pursue charges against Bae because if she hadn't, she might be inadvertently putting others in danger by allowing him to go on unaccountable for his actions.
"He chose to rape me," she said.
Several supporters of Bae's including friends and his mother attended Monday's hearing. Callan said he had read and considered several letters of support written on Bae's behalf.
Bae addressed the court and apologized to the victim and also apologized "for all the pain I caused to people I love and who love me."
"I am truly sorry for what happened," he said.
Dolan noted Bae willingly returned to the U.S. after living in South Korea during a two-year ban from the Williams campus, knowing he would have to face the rape charge. He was barred from the campus for two years following an investigation by Williams College, according to information aired at trial. During that suspension, Bae served with the South Korean military.
Dolan noted some of the collateral consequences Bae would incur due to the conviction including deportation, being barred from reentering the U.S. and having to register as a sex offender. He asked Callan to consider placing Bae on probation or at least consider having him serve whatever incarceration to which he'd be sentenced in jail rather than state prison.
Dolan said that before trial, prosecutors offered a sentence of three to four years in prison if Bae were to plead guilty.
According to Berkshire DA Andrea Harrington, under the previous administration of DA Paul Caccaviello, Bae was offered a plea deal that would have allowed him to admit to indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 and have his case continued without a finding.
Bae rejected that deal and a similar one was not proffered by Harrington's administration.
Callan said he'd given the case a great deal of thought and considered the statements from Bae, his supporters as well as the victim's, which he called "courageous." The judge's sentence of three years included a recommendation that it be served at the Berkshire Jail and House of Correction.
Ultimately, it will be up to the Department of Corrections whether to adopt that recommendation.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
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