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After an arrest related to summer rapes, Berkshire DA calls on more victims to come forward

A woman in a blue suit stands in front of a set of stone stairs
Josh Landes
Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington.

The Berkshire District Attorney’s Office is looking for more victims to come forward after a Pittsfield man was arrested on rape charges Tuesday.

The arrest of 20-year-old Lucius Copeland is the first made by the office’s new violent crime section it launched in September.

“This investigation started in September with the Pittsfield Police Department and a number of other jurisdictions. People from other localities were making complaints as well. So this matter was referred to the task force in November, who launched an in depth investigation," said DA Andrea Harrington, who spoke on a virtual press conference Wednesday morning. “Mr. Copeland was arrested on three counts, two counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of rape of a child. This task force was launched as part of an effort to bring more sophisticated resources to the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. We established probable cause to arrest Mr. Copeland on these charges, and he was arraigned yesterday virtually in Central Berkshire District Court. Judge Paul Smyth has scheduled the dangerousness hearing for Tuesday, January 4th. This arrest would not have been possible without the brave young women who had the courage to share deeply personal and traumatic events with their local police.”

Copeland is being held by authorities until the dangerousness hearing. According to the Northern Berkshire District Court, his attorney is the Adams-based Edmund St. John III. St. John III did not immediately respond to a request for comment from WAMC.

Two victims – a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old – have come forward in the investigation.

“This was not like a stranger type situation," said the DA. "You'll see from the probable cause report that these victims were targeted by the perpetrator, and he was corresponding them through social media and seemed to know them socially.”

Harrington says investigators suspect that there are more victims in the community.

“We ask those victims to contact the state police detective unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office at 413-499-1112," she said. "This investigation remains open.”

Of the charges Copeland faces, two of the sexual assaults are alleged to have occurred in Pittsfield and one allegedly occurred in Lanesborough.

“It was primarily investigated by an officer from Hinsdale and an officer from Lee," said Harrington. "So this is indicative of the task force approach in sharing the investigator responsibilities amongst different jurisdictions.”

Harrington says she’s eager to spotlight the work of the violent crime section, which relies on interdepartmental collaboration to share investigative expertise on sexual assault cases.

“It highlights the commitment that we have here in Berkshire County law enforcement to using our resources to address gender based violence and violent crime," said the DA. "In particular, it has been my effort to shift resources and focus away from kind of what I would pejoratively call the War on Drugs to violent crime. And this task force is a really tangible example of how we are doing that. I also wanted to highlight this because I think that the- We have a crisis here in Berkshire County of violence against women and girls. And you know, when you will be able to see the probable cause report that's been filed with the police, these facts are really disturbing, but they're not as unusual as they should be. And I think it's important for our community to understand the kinds of challenges that women and girls face in terms of violence here in Berkshire County, and we're all responsible for addressing this violence. We're all responsible for changing the culture of violence against women and girls.”

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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