Man convicted of raping fellow Williams College student in 2014
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Within an hour of taking the witness stand in his own defense, Yoonsang Bae was convicted of raping a fellow Williams College student in summer 2014.
Bae, 27, of Boston, was taken into custody Friday and will remain held pending a sentencing hearing scheduled for Sept. 13.
During the second day of his bench trial in Berkshire Superior Court, Bae testified that he was staying on campus for a summer research project in late July 2014 when the victim visited a group of mutual friends, including Bae. He said the woman, who was 19 at the time, regarded him as a mentor up to that point.
Bae said he had provided alcohol to the victim in the form of cocktails consisting of beer, tequila and triple sec. He said the woman got drunk to the point of becoming ill several times, and he helped her back and forth to the bathroom.
Bae testified that he brought the victim to the common room where she originally was expected to sleep for the night, but it appeared that there were someone else's belongings there and he decided to bring her back to his room instead.
Under cross-examination, Bae acknowledged that while he saw someone else's luggage in the room, there didn't appear to be anyone sleeping in the bed that had been designated for the woman's visit.
He said he also was drunk at the time and wasn't aware with whom he was having sex; he presumed that it was his girlfriend.
And he testified that he apologized to the woman several times the next day.
Judge Michael Callan, who presided over the two-day trial, questioned whether there was any evidence that the victim gave Bae consent at any point.
In her closing argument, Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Stephanie Ilberg said the victim was intoxicated to the point she couldn't move, and was unable to consent. Ilberg rested her case about 9:20 a.m. Friday.
Bae's attorney, Charles Dolan, rested his case about an hour later, after calling Bae as his only witness.
Callan returned about an hour later with the guilty verdict on one count of rape. Bae faces up to 20 years in prison.
"I want to thank the victim in this case for her strength and courage," Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington said in a prepared statement. "She is a hero for coming forward and sharing her story."
Harrington said Bae rejected a deal under the previous district attorney that would have allowed him to plead guilty to the lesser charge of indecent assault and battery. Under the terms of that deal, his case would have been continued without a finding, meaning the charge eventually would have been dismissed once Bae completed whatever probation conditions were imposed.
Harrington said she did not extend any such opportunity.
"My office will not plea rape charges down to lesser offenses when we have victims who wish to go to trial," she said in her statement. "When I took office in January, my first priority was to seek justice for victims by aggressively prosecuting violent crime. This is what being tough on crime should look like."
Dolan requested that Bae remain free until next week's sentencing, suggesting that he presented no flight risk. He noted that Bae had spent two years in his native South Korea while his case was pending, and has since had ample opportunity to otherwise leave the country.
Callan denied the request.
Bae had been suspended from Williams College and barred from the campus for two years after the school investigated the woman's assault claim.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.
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