UMass rape trial finds Pittsfield man guilty

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NORTHAMPTON, MASS. >> A Hampshire Superior Court jury Wednesday found Justin A. King guilty of raping a former University of Massachusetts Amherst student in her dorm room during 2012.

King, 21, of Pittsfield, was convicted on all three counts of aggravated rape brought against him. He was taken by a sheriff's van to the Hampshire County Jail where he will be held until his sentencing hearing Monday.

His attorney, Terrence Dunphy, of Springfield, said an appeal will be filed Monday, and declined to comment further.

King was the second of four men to be tried based on allegations that they gang-raped an 18-year-old woman on Oct. 13, 2012. The woman testified in both trials that her four male friends — King, Emmanuel T. Bile Jr., Adam T. Liccardi and Caleb Womack — raped her repeatedly while she drifted in and out of consciousness and was too drunk to move or speak.

The 12 jurors deliberated for less than six hours and delivered their verdict about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

"The jury's swift and unanimous verdict is a direct result of the victim's tremendous strength, courage and perseverance," Assistant District Attorney Jennifer H. Suhl, who prosecuted the case, said in a statement released following the verdict. "The Commonwealth is grateful to the jury for their time and attention, and now turns its focus toward the remaining two cases."

The first defendant to be tried, Bile, 21, of Pittsfield, was convicted in March of two of the three counts of aggravated rape he faced. Bile, who plans to appeal his conviction, has served nearly three months of his eight- to 10-year state prison sentence.

King and Bile both testified at their trials that they had consensual group sex with the woman. Liccardi also maintains the sex was consensual, while Womack denied he took part in the sexual activity in the woman's dorm room.

Testimony in King's trial began June 17 and concluded Tuesday afternoon. The victim — who is expected to testify at the remaining two trials as well — cried as she described how the four men took off her clothes and took turns raping her, sometimes simultaneously, while she could not yell or make her limbs move to fight them off.

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She said she was eventually able to say "Stop" and began crying, but the rapes only stopped when her crying "got loud enough." The woman said that Bile, Womack and King left at that point, but Liccardi stayed and raped her again.

Jurors saw a text message the woman sent Bile in the morning when she woke up alone. It read, "Thank you all for ... raping me while I was passed out and couldn't move. You are literally the scummiest people on Earth."

She also demanded $500 from the men in exchange for not going to the police, but she ended up reporting the incident to UMass Police late on Oct. 14, 2012.

King was the last to testify in the trial, telling jurors Tuesday that the woman was "intoxicated but fully conscious and fully aware all night." He said they started having sex and Liccardi and Bile joined in, and she only started to cry when he was leaving the room.

The maximum sentence for a charge of aggravated rape is life in prison, but state sentencing guidelines suggest a sentence of eight to 12 years for someone with little or no record. The aggravating factor in the rape charge is that the rapes were committed by "joint venture" of the men.

During King's sentencing Monday, Judge Bertha D. Josephson can weigh mitigating and aggravating factors, as well as recommendations from Suhl and Dunphy.

Liccardi, 20, of Pittsfield, will be tried next on four counts of aggravated rape — one count more than his co-defendants because he allegedly raped the woman after his friends left.

His trial could take place as soon as July, but his attorney, Alfred P. Chamberland, of Easthampton, has indicated that he will ask for a delay because the media coverage of King's trial could make it hard to find an unbiased jury. Chamberland also has filed a motion to move the trial out of Hampshire County for the same reason, but a judge has not yet ruled on it.

Womack, 20, of Windsor Locks, Conn., will be the last to be tried on three counts of aggravated rape. He has said that he never had sex with the woman. King testified Tuesday that he cannot remember seeing Womack take part in the sexual activities.

Follow Rebecca Everett on Twitter @GazetteRebecca.


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