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Police halt investigation into alleged attack at Simon’s Rock

By Friday, Nov 15, 2019 News 3

Great Barrington — Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington announced this afternoon that state police assigned to her office are no longer investigating an attack that allegedly occurred on the Simon’s Rock campus in September.

The student reporting the assault recently informed detectives that they would no longer cooperate with the investigation. The student similarly refused to cooperate with a private investigator hired by the college, Harrington said in a news release.

The Campus Safety department at Simon’s Rock received a call shortly before 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27, with a report that a student of color had been assaulted  and dragged into a wooded area on campus. The student, whose name and age were never released, was transported by ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, treated for minor injuries and discharged.

The incident alarmed students, faculty and staff on the campus, in part because it was preceded by the appearance of anti-Semitic graffiti and racial slurs written on the walls of campus buildings.

An extensive investigation by Great Barrington Police and State Police Detectives assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office uncovered inconsistencies between the student’s allegations and the evidence collected during the course of the investigation.

Still, authorities said last month that the investigation into the “alleged incident” would remain open, “given the unease that the complaint has caused for the community, particularly for Simon’s Rock students and faculty.”

“While these inconsistencies call into doubt that an attack occurred as alleged, police and prosecutors have determined there is insufficient evidence to charge the student with making a false report to law enforcement,” the new release said.

Investigators conducted numerous interviews, reviewed medical records, searched the grounds, and searched electronics. There was no surveillance video of the area available.

Multiple law enforcement agencies including Simon’s Rock Campus Safety, Great Barrington Police Department, State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office, State Police Crime Scene Services Section, and forensic scientists assigned to the State Police Crime Lab “devoted significant resources to investigating this matter given the disturbing nature of the report and the concerns over potential racial motivations for the attack,” Harrington said.

Among the details released by the DA’s office last month:

  • The student informed investigators that they were rendered unconscious and dragged approximately 75 yards into the woods. The student reported later waking with cuts through the student’s clothing, resulting in cuts to the student’s torso.
  • The ground in the area of which the student was reportedly dragged consisted of a wooden path, dirt and mud.
  • The student’s clothing, shoes, hair and body did not have any dirt or debris on them.
  • The superficial wounds on the student’s torso did not align with the cuts on the student’s clothing.
  • There were no defensive wounds on the complainant.
  • Records provided thus far do not provide a medical reason for unconsciousness.
  • Investigators conducted three interviews of the student.
  • No description of the alleged assailant was provided to investigators during any of the interviews.
  • No surveillance footage of the area is available.
  • None of the witnesses in the area at the time reported seeing any other potentially involved parties in the vicinity.

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