As dawn broke yesterday over Boston University, the school’s nationally ranked hockey team found itself further tainted with scandal as a star defenseman was arrested for allegedly raping a female student on the riverside campus.
Max Nicastro, 21, was taken into custody at 6:30 a.m. by university police and transported to Boston Police District 14 in Brighton, where he was booked on the rape charge. He was ordered held on $25,000 cash bail pending his arraignment tomorrow in Brighton District Court.
Nicastro is the second BU hockey player in the last 10 weeks to face sexual assault allegations involving a female student. The team’s leading scorer, Corey Trivino, was arrested Dec. 11 on numerous charges after he allegedly broke into a woman’s room at night.
Trivino, who pleaded not guilty to the charges, was thrown off the hockey team. Nicastro has been suspended from the team as school officials investigate the incident amid questions about whether the two cases are merely troubling coincidences or symptomatic of a larger problem in the hockey program.
Coach Jack Parker and athletic director Mike Lynch were not available to comment, according to a school spokesman. Dean of students Ken Elmore said it would be unfair to suggest the cases stemmed from any “concerted activity’’ involving the hockey team.
Other than Nicastro and Trivino, fewer than five of BU’s 33,000 students this academic year have faced charges related to sexual assault, according to a school official.
Elmore cited “the tragedy for the students involved’’ and said, “My concern on a much larger level is that we have students on this campus who don’t know how to treat each other. We have students who have been in situations where they are sexually assaulting others. I want to make sure we engage all our students in thinking about and understanding the serious nature of such allegations.’’
Nicastro’s father, Mark, declined to comment when reached at the family’s home in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Max Nicastro, a third-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2008, was arrested hours after scoring a goal in his team’s 4-2 loss to UMass-Lowell Saturday night at BU’s Agganis Arena.
Nicastro lives a block from the arena in a BU residence hall on Buick Street in Allston, according to school officials. Authorities would not identify the location of the alleged rape, other than to say it occurred on BU’s sprawling Charles River Campus, which covers 131 acres along Commonwealth Avenue west of Kenmore Square.
Boston Police assisted in booking and jailing Nicastro, but few other details of the case were available. The Suffolk County district attorney’s office is investigating the allegations and is expected to present additional information at Nicastro’s arraignment tomorrow.
“First and foremost, we want to be sure to take care of the person who is the alleged victim here,’’ Elmore said. “We want to make sure she is OK and also make sure we investigate the case as swiftly, as fairly, and as thoroughly as we can.’’
Nicastro’s arrest comes amid a difficult run for the BU hockey team. The Terriers, who have been ranked No. 1 nationally more than once this season, entered last weekend as the second-ranked Division 1 team in the country. But their loss to Lowell dropped them into third place in their league, Hockey East, behind first-place Boston College and Lowell, and they have lost four straight home games for the first time in 32 years.
A week ago, Nicastro and the Terriers endured a crushing 3-2 overtime loss to BC in the Beanpot championship game. They have been struggling to maintain their elite ranking since the departures of Trivino, a 2008 draft choice of the New York Islanders, and their second-leading scorer, Charlie Coyle. A Minnesota Wild prospect, Coyle quit the team five days after Trivino’s arrest, saying he was “done being a student-athlete’’ and wanted to focus fully on hockey.
Nicastro, a junior, enjoyed one of his greatest collegiate moments in November when he helped set up the winning goal as the Terriers defeated Cornell, 2-1, in overtime at Madison Square Garden. He also played in BU’s 3-2 victory over BC at Fenway Park a week after the 2010 NHL Winter Classic.
Nicastro prepared for his collegiate career by playing two seasons with the Chicago Steel of the US Hockey League, the country’s top junior league, after playing for the Los Angeles Junior Kings. He was an All-Star with the Steel in 2009, the same year he graduated from Westlake High School in California.
At BU, Nicastro was a member of Hockey East’s All-Rookie team in 2010. He had scored three goals and had six assists this season before his arrest.
In 2010, Nicastro told his hometown paper, the Ventura County Star, he was proud to play for a BU program that produced 2009 Hobey Baker award winner Matt Gilroy and stars of the 1980 US Olympic gold medal team such as Mike Eruzione.
“It’s a great feeling just to know you’ve been through a place that they’ve been through, too,’’ Nicastro said.
Elmore said Nicastro’s future at BU will be determined by the school’s investigation and standard review process.