A 21-year-old Northeastern University student has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman at knifepoint Saturday in Mission Hill , not far from his apartment and the scene of a similar attack less than an hour later.
“He began to cut her clothes off and told her he was going to rape her,” Elizabeth Riley, assistant Suffolk district attorney, said at Patrick Barry’s arraignment Monday afternoon in Roxbury District Court.
The attack occurred at 2:01 a.m. Saturday, less than a mile from the defendant’s apartment on Huntington Avenue. Authorities are also looking into whether Barry may be connected to a sexual assault less than an hour later near Huntington and Parker Hill avenues, about a quarter-mile from Barry’s apartment.
In both attacks, the victims were approached from behind and assaulted with a knife, police said.
Barry graduated from Austin Preparatory School in Reading in 2010 and last year was awarded a Stephen Phillips Memorial Scholarship based in part on a demonstrated concern for others in the community.
In a statement Monday, Austin Prep said that Barry graduated from the school. “He has had no contact with the school since that time, so we cannot comment on this current allegation,” the school said.
Matthew Maimone, who graduated with Barry, said he was shocked by the allegations.
“He was a nice guy, nothing really out of the ordinary with him, so you wouldn’t think he was capable of that,” Maimone said. “He played football, seemed likable.”
Barry has no criminal record. His attorney, Carlton Williams, pleaded not guilty on his client’s behalf Monday.
“The set of circumstances, for a number of reasons, is perplexing,” Williams said after summarizing his client’s work and educational history to Judge David Poole.
Barry hid behind a door at the arraignment. His father, James Barry, sat in the front row, but left without commenting.
Riley asked Poole to set bail at $250,000 cash, but the judge set it at $30,000, pending a July 8 probable cause hearing.
Barry was charged with assault to rape, armed robbery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The victim sustained numerous cuts to her face, arms, hands, and legs and was bleeding profusely when officers arrived. Riley said.
The woman was walking home near Wigglesworth and Tremont streets when she was attacked. Barry allegedly took her purse and cellphone and dragged her onto Vancouver Street, where he started to cut off her clothes.
The woman began screaming and was able to break free and run away, police said.
At 2:51 a.m., police were called to the intersection of Huntington and Parker Hill avenues, where another woman reported she had just been grabbed from behind, knocked to the ground, and dragged onto a side street by a man with a knife. The assailant fled after the woman screamed. That victim sustained a stab wound to her hand.
Investigators linked Barry to the first attack through surveillance videos and witness accounts. Several people who saw the footage through the news media contacted police and told them that they recognized the suspect as Barry and that they saw him wearing the same clothing as in the video one day after the attack.
Witnesses also told police that in the hours after the assault, Barry returned home with lacerations on his face, and when asked how he was cut, Barry told them that someone attacked him at knifepoint and he was forced to defend himself with his own knife.
Blood and a baseball hat were recovered from the scene, and tests are being conducted on the evidence.
The two attacks caused fear for many residents living in the area. After being told that an arrest had been made, Isabel Leong, a Northeastern student, said, “That makes me feel a lot better.
“My roommates and I were like, ‘Let’s not go out by ourselves.’ We bike home, and you have to be careful about that because it takes you a little longer to get through the door.”
Brian Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.