Somerville athletes alleged to use broomstick in assault
First student arraigned
PITTSFIELD — Unsettling new details about an alleged sexual assault by Somerville High School students emerged at an arraignment Tuesday, where a prosecutor said three upperclassmen forced a freshman soccer player to his knees, raped him with a broomstick, and then threatened victims and witnesses to keep quiet.
The allegations were outlined by Berkshire Assistant District Attorney Rachel Eramo at the arraignment of 17-year-old Galileo Mondol, who pleaded not guilty.
Eramo told the judge that Mondol and two 16-year-olds carried out the assault the weekend of Aug. 24-25 at Camp Lenox in Otis, where 165 members of several Somerville High School sports teams were attending an annual preseason team-building retreat. Prosecutors have not named the other two defendants because they are juveniles.
Eramo persuaded the judge to keep Mondol jailed pending a dangerousness hearing, which has been scheduled for Friday.
Mondol, a Somerville High soccer player, and two teammates forced their way into a cabin occupied by freshmen, the prosecutor told the court. She said the intruders told the younger players, “We’re going to pick someone. It’s going to be you. It’s going to be you,” as they pointed at individuals in the room.
Then, one of the 16-year-olds grabbed a broom, forced a freshman onto the floor on his hands and knees, and raped him with the broom, Eramo said. Citing information provided by victims and witnesses, she said Mondol initially told his two accomplices to stop, but once the assault was underway, he changed his mind.
“I want to have a crack at that,’’ Mondol allegedly said, according to Eramo.
Eramo said witnesses described the victim crying and bleeding in the bathroom after the alleged attack. She said State Police later recovered a blood-stained tissue from the cabin and discovered a stain, believed to be blood, in the cabin’s bathroom.
Mondol and the two 16-year-olds then assaulted the two other freshmen, but they managed to fight off the attacks and were not raped, but were poked with the broomstick in their buttocks, Eramo said. The victims were all members of the school’s junior varsity boys’ soccer team, officials have said.
According to Eramo, as Mondol and his two juvenile codefendants were about to leave the cabin, a freshman who witnessed the alleged assault said he would tell someone what had happened.
Eramo said Mondol looked the freshman in the eyes with a serious expression and said, “you better keep your mouth shut.”
Mondol and his codefendants continued their efforts to keep the freshmen quiet after leaving the camp, Eramo said, in part by sending intimidating Facebook and Twitter messages.
Central Berkshire District Court Judge Philip A. Beattie cut off Eramo’s account, appearing to have heard enough.
Mondol, whose parents were in court Tuesday, did not show any obvious emotion during the court proceeding.
Mondol’s defense attorney, William Korman, told Beattie his client was in “the wrong place at the wrong time” and actively tried to end the assaults. He asked for $10,000 cash bail, which was rejected. Eramo successfully argued that Mondol’s bail should remain set at $100,000 cash, citing the serious charges and Mondol’s lack of connections to Berkshire County. Korman called that amount punitive.
Korman said that while Mondol should not have been in the cabin, the teen did not actively participate in the attacks. He also said the two juvenile codefendants corroborated a statement from the rape victim that Mondol did not physically participate in the attack on him.
“The victim himself says the defendant had nothing to do with it,” Korman told the judge. “This boy was telling the others to stop, to not do it.’’
In asking for bail, Korman cited Mondol’s “stellar” behavioral, academic, and athletic record in saying the prosecution’s request for a dangerousness hearing “simply makes no sense.”
Mondol was about to begin his junior year at Somerville High after he transferred from Thayer Academy in Braintree, according to his lawyer.
Korman told reporters after the hearing that Mondol will be exonerated.
“My client is being confined because the district attorney’s office has determined that they want their pound of flesh now, just in case they can’t prove their case later,” Korman said. “And they will not be able to prove their case later.”
At the arraignment Tuesday, Mondol pleaded not guilty to 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.
The 16-year-old defendants are to be arraigned in Berkshire Juvenile Court on similar charges, according to the office of the Berkshire district attorney. Because of their age, prosecutors would not release their names or confirm when they will appear in court.
Later Tuesday, the Somerville High varsity soccer team played a friendly match at Somerville’s Dilboy Stadium as they continued to prepare for the upcoming season. Police maintained a presence at the scrimmage.
Porfirio Figueroa, 43, was sitting in the bleachers cheering the team on. He proudly pointed out his son, a Somerville senior who hopes to play soccer at the college or professional level.
“The team is going to stick together,” he said. “Their concentration and focus is on the team.”
Figueroa said his main concern was for the three victims and their families. “It’s sad for the parents and for the kids,” he said, shaking his head.
Figueroa admitted having some worries about his son’s safety in the wake of the alleged assault — which Somerville officials said occurred “yards, if not feet away” from some of the 20 adults responsible for supervising the student athletes — but was reassured by the school’s response.
“They called me, and they’re taking care of it,” he said.
City officials said that the three victims have resumed practicing with the junior varsity team.