BENNINGTON — A former Bennington College student pleaded guilty this week to charges related to a 2020 incident in which he forced a 16-year-old to take a combination of alcohol and a narcotic before sexually assaulting him.
On Monday, John “Jack” D’Angelo, who was 21 at the time of the assault, accepted a plea deal. He pleaded guilty to two felony charges — lewd-lascivious conduct and furnishing alcohol to a minor — and in exchange, a count of sexual assault with use of drugs to impair was dropped.
He will have to pay a fine of $800 plus surcharges, and he will complete a two-year deferred sentence. During this time, he must comply to the requirements of the Vermont Sex Offender Registry.
According to a police affidavit, as told by Detective Trooper Lauren Ronan, the survivor met D’Angelo on Grinder, a dating app, but they had not met in person until that night. After speaking and sending photos through Snapchat, D’Angelo asked the survivor to come to his dorm room. The survivor made it clear that he was not interested in having sex, but did come to the dorm.
Once the survivor had entered the room, he noticed that a beer already was poured for him. The top of the beer had traces of a blue substance on top. Although the survivor originally denied the beer, he recalls D’Angelo becoming more domineering as the night went on. D’Angelo also was taking nitrous oxide throughout the night; when inhaled, “laughing gas” can have euphoric and dissociative effects.
Eventually, D’Angelo pressured the survivor into drinking the beer and poured what remained of the drink and blue powder into the survivor’s mouth.
The survivor began to feel dizzy and doesn’t remember anything after drinking the beer. The next morning, he woke up in D’Angelo’s bed and went home. D’Angelo was later confronted by the survivor about what happened that night.
D’Angelo described the sexual assault over a series of text messages that the survivor then sent to the state police. In the messages, D’Angelo admits to “mistakenly” providing the survivor with clonazepam, a benzodiazepine.
On Nov. 20, 2020, Ronan met with Ken Collamore, head of security at Bennington College. Ronan secured a search warrant and obtained items taken from D’Angelo’s room.
The items collected contained Xanax, stimulants, an empty pack of clonazepam and a bottle of sleeping pills. All of the pills that were found were blue in color.
Ronan spoke with D’Angelo over the phone after the incident. At the time, he was living in Boston, Mass., kicked off the Bennington campus for having a guest in his dorm room. Ronan asked him if he would be willing to meet with her, and he didn’t answer. Ronan attempted to contact D’Angelo several times after that before requesting an arrest warrant.
When asked about the assault, Alex Dery Snider, the senior director of communications for Bennington College, said, “Bennington College recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy, safe, welcoming and inclusive community. ... The college does not tolerate any form of sexual misconduct offenses and other nonconsensual sexual contact, and every student receives training.”
The court is awaiting the results of a psychosexual evaluation of D’Angelo. This evaluation will determine if his sexual interests are abnormal and potentially illegal if acted upon. His sentencing is scheduled for the end of April.