Say the word and people start averting their eyes toward the floor, begin to edge out of the room denouncing such an atrocity, and though it could never happen to them, certainly justice must be served.
It’s a hot topic in the community of Amherst, Massachusetts right now.
On the heels of a recent Oct. 17 article published in The Amherst Student by a former Amherst College student about her experience with on-campus rape comes another blow to the Amherst community, this time from University of Massachusetts students involved in an alleged “gang rape.”
In an email sent out to UMass students this afternoon, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy confirmed that four men from Pittsfield have been arrested for the rape of an 18-year-old student in the student’s residence hall early Saturday morning on Oct. 13. Subbaswamy added that the alleged perpetrators are known to the victim but are not UMass students.
Subbaswamy wrote that the UMPD “began an immediate investigation” following notification of the crime and that the University will further review campus security measures.
Subbaswamy expressed sympathy on behalf of the campus community, saying
“The victim and her family are receiving support from our campus resources. I know that I speak on behalf of our university community when I say that they are all in our thoughts during this difficult time.”
In a press conference being held today at 1 p.m. at the UMass Police Department, University officials are expected to release a statement regarding the four arrests linked to the sexual assault.
For live tweets of the conference, follow me: @Seafeezle.
This is a developing story. More updates to come following the press conference.
UPDATE 1:15 p.m: In a release issued by the University, the alleged perpetrators are identified as Emmanuel Bile, 18, Justin King, 18, Adam Liccardi, 18, and Caleb Womack, 17.
UPDATE 1:45 p.m: In a 20-minute press conference held at the UMPD, Chief John Horvath, Dean of Students Enku Gelaye and District Attorney David Sullivan spoke on the Oct. 13 rape case on the UMass campus. The case was reported Oct. 14 around 11:30 p.m by the victim.
Subbaswamy reiterated statements from an earlier email and introduced Horvath.
Horvath confirmed the identities of the above-mentioned suspects and said that three of the four individuals had been signed into the residence hall not by the victim, though the suspects and the victim had known of each other through past “interactions.”
“I assume because of the age range they were here to visit students and socialize in some manner,” Horvath said.
When asked why it took five days to make any arrests, Horvath said that an “exhausted” investigative process and interviewing of the suspects had to be conducted before any major legal actions, saying
“To say that a week is a long time for a case like this is not the case. I’m very confident that in a week turn around, we did everything we could.”
As for the well-being and enrollment status of the victim, Horvath declined to comment specifically, but said that she had the support of her family and has ”a wide array of support services on campus available to her.”
Gelaye talked of on-campus support services for all students and praised the victim for reporting her case to the University; Sullivan echoed her praise, thanking the victim for “having the courage to come forward.”
“We take the safety of the community seriously. We want students to know that they are responsible for the guests they sign in,” Gelaye said.
University officials said security procedures on campus will be reviewed and that the case is still under investigation.