A Bridgewater State University professor has been charged with raping a student in his office last October after initially meeting the alleged victim online, court records show.
Nicholas R. Pirelli, 36, who teaches communication studies, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Brockton District Court to charges of rape and indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over, according to legal filings. Bail was set at $2,500 cash or $25,000 surety.
Attempts to reach Pirelli, of Plymouth, and his lawyer for comment were unsuccessful Friday.
According to a Bridgewater State police report, Pirelli sexually assaulted the student on the night of Oct. 20 in his office on campus, after inviting her there and offering to help her with an essay and her résumé. He also said he could help her find work on campus “because of his connections as a professor,” the report says.
On Friday, the university said Pirelli has been placed on paid leave and asked not to visit campus without first speaking to university officials.
The school said in a statement that it has “has zero tolerance for misconduct, abuse, or violence against any members of our campus community and is committed to preventing and holding accountable anyone responsible for acts of physical and sexual assault. We are working closely with the district attorney’s office in their prosecution of this alleged crime.”
The police report says the woman told investigators she arrived at Pirelli’s office on the night of the encounter sometime after 9 p.m., and he locked the door after she entered. They began working on the essay, she told police, with Pirelli typing at his computer and the woman sitting behind his desk on a beanbag chair.
After about 30 minutes, she said, Pirelli got up, turned around, and abruptly stuck his tongue in her mouth, an act she described as unexpected and unwanted. She told police she felt trapped and placed her hands in front of her chest with her palms facing outward to keep Pirelli from coming any closer or lying on top of her, the filing says.
The woman told police that Pirelli backed away after one or two minutes, the report says, and she stood up and took a seat on the side of his desk. She said Pirelli later lifted her off the desk and quickly spun her around so she was facing away from him, removing her pants and underwear and sexually assaulting her for about 10 minutes, according to the report.
After Pirelli stopped, the woman told police, he stood up and said “goodnight,” and she gathered her belongings and left.
“When interviewing the victim, several times she broke down and began crying,” the report says. “... Detectives found the victim credible throughout their interviews with her.”
The woman reported the incident Tuesday, according to the report, and police later interviewed her roommates, whom she told about the incident, as well as Pirelli.
Pirelli, the report says, initially said he didn’t think he knew the woman but later allowed that he may have met her online and that she may have been a guest in his office.
When asked about an allegation of “inappropriate touching,” the report says, Pirelli replied, “that is extreme” and denied having “any physical encounters with the victim in his office.”
Pirelli and the woman, the report says, met a few weeks before the alleged rape on a site described as a “ ‘sugar baby’ and ‘sugar daddy’ matching website.” Pirelli told the woman he “had several sugar babies in the past” who “benefited financially from the arrangement,” the report says.
At one point, according to the filing, Pirelli told the woman he was seeking a “sugar baby” who would “dominate him” with various erotic objects, which he sent to her in a photograph. He also sent her small sums of money through the Venmo app on Oct. 15 and Oct. 17, and then sent her $50 hours before the alleged rape on the afternoon of Oct. 20 “to go shopping,” the document says.
Following Pirelli’s arrest Wednesday, the filing says, detectives sorted through a “large cache” of electronic communications between him and the woman, and that a small number of messages after the alleged rape “appeared to indicate from their tone” that she “may have found Pirelli’s actions acceptable to her.”
But the woman continued to maintain in a follow-up interview that she was sexually assaulted.
She told detectives that after the alleged assault, she did not wish to meet with Pirelli again but “continued to communicate with him, and to send the kind of messages she did, as part of an effort to appease him,” the report says.
The woman said that because of Pirelli’s status as a professor, “she continued speaking with Pirelli in an attempt to ‘let him down easy’ and so as not to ruin her chances of obtaining employment through the university,” the filing says, adding that the woman “completely stood by” her sexual assault complaint.
She told police that following the encounter in Pirelli’s office, she did not request any additional funds or help with schoolwork or employment, nor did she communicate “nearly as much” with him as she did beforehand.
Pirelli’s next hearing is slated for April 30.