PITTSFIELD — A judge ruled Friday that Galileo Mondol, the 17-year-old Somerville High School student accused of raping a male freshman soccer player with a broomstick and assaulting two others, is not a danger to society and allowed him to be released on bail.
Pittsfield District Court Judge Fredric Rutberg, after reviewing a graphic 40-page State Police affidavit and hearing arguments, found prosecutors did not make a “clear and convincing” case that Mondol was dangerous to the community and needed to remain jailed while awaiting trial.
“The notion that the Commonwealth would even hold a dangerousness hearing on a case like this, with evidence this thin, is patently absurd,” Mondol’s defense lawyer, William Korman, said outside the courthouse. “We’re grateful and thankful the judge saw through that.”
Rutberg upheld a bail of $100,000 cash, which Korman had called excessive and a hardship to Mondol’s family. But the sum was paid, and Mondol was freed by late afternoon from the Berkshire jail where he was being held.
Mondol is one of three Somerville High students charged with sexually assaulting three freshmen Aug. 25 at Camp Lenox in Otis, where some 165 Somerville students, along with 20 adult supervisors, were participating in a preseason team-building program.
Prosecutors and Somerville officials have said that during a short break between activities Mondol and two 16-year-old codefendants entered a cabin of freshmen junior varsity soccer players, raping one victim with a broomstick and attempting to assault two others, who fought off the attacks. Three other freshmen were present but not assaulted.
Each defendant has also been charged with trying to silence witnesses with threats that prosecutors said included intimidating Facebook and Twitter messages.
“This is an act that was in no way deserved, in no way solicited, in no way provoked,” Berkshire Assistant District Attorney Rachel Eramo said in court. “The purpose of this camp was to help the soccer team become like a family. . . . What happened instead is this defendant [Mondol] took it upon himself with his two codefendants to enter the freshman cabin and do harm — not only physical harm, but a good deal of emotional harm.”
Mondol has pleaded not guilty to the 10 charges he faces: one count of aggravated rape of a child under the age of 16, two counts of assault with intent to rape a child under 16, one count of indecent assault and battery, three counts of assault and battery, and three counts of witness intimidation.
After making bail, Mondol was required to surrender his passport, observe an 11 p.m. curfew unless accompanied by his parents, and not attend Somerville High School while his case is active, the judge ruled. He was also forbidden from contacting any victims or witnesses of the assaults.
During the hearing, Korman said Somerville High School was in the process of expelling Mondol and had banned him from attending any school athletic events. Somerville officials would not confirm Mondol’s status at the high school, citing privacy rules.
Somerville Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi said in a brief phone interview late Friday afternoon that an independent committee of parents, teachers, coaches, and law enforcement officers would review the school system’s supervisory procedures and suggest changes in a report to the school committee this fall. He also said the start of the school year this week went smoothly, and that counselors were available to students.
Mondol, shackled at his ankles and wrists, entered Central Berkshire District Court on Friday morning looking solemn as family members watched intently from a nearby bench.
Mondol’s father shut his eyes shut several times during Friday’s hearing. The teen’s family has remained composed during Friday’s hearing and one held Tuesday.
Eramo summarized the accounts of the three victims and at least three witnesses, all freshmen soccer players, of the assault, acknowledging that they vary slightly in details.
“Of the six people who had the best view of what occurred on this particular day, it is more than fair to say that every story doesn’t match up exactly,” Eramo said in court. “That would be typical of any situation where you have multiple witnesses and something as traumatic and as disturbing and as hurtful as the one that is alleged to have occurred here.”
Only one of the six freshmen — identified only as “Victim 2,” who was assaulted but not raped — told investigators Mondol physically helped another defendant rape one boy with a broomstick, Eramo said. Statements by the other witnesses differ on the exact timeline of events, but agree Mondol was present and encouraged the abuse, according to Eramo.
Eramo also admitted that the rape victim — identified only as “Victim 1” — told investigators Mondol was not physically involved in the assault.
Still, she argued, Mondol should be held in jail because of what she described as his “cruel conduct” and the fact that the victims were juveniles.
Korman has signaled that if the case goes to trial, he will target the inconsistencies in the witness statements as part of his defense. Those inconsistencies could give Korman leverage to seek a plea deal or less serious charges, but prosecutors seem intent on proceeding with the charges and Korman does not seem eager to compromise, saying the facts support Mondol and that he expects the teen to be “completely exonerated.”
The case for Mondol, 17, is proceeding in open court while his two codefendants are prosecuted behind closed doors in Berkshire Juvenile Court.
Korman lamented that Mondol has been the subject of media scrutiny while the two juvenile defendants go unnamed.
“I think it’s unfair that . . . [Mondol’s] name is put out there and his face is on television while the juvenile codefendants, especially the ones who are far more culpable than him, get to hide behind that cloak of anonymity,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s the way the law is written.”
Questions remain about the possible role of adult supervisors at the camp who Somerville officials have said were “yards, if not feet away” when the assaults occurred. While that issue has not been raised in court, Pierantozzi said earlier the school system would launch an investigation with an eye toward improving supervisory procedures.
The victims, all members of the high school’s junior varsity boys’ soccer team, have recovered from their injuries and returned to practice, officials have said.
Mondol is due in Southern Berkshire District Court for a pretrial hearing Oct. 3.