Appeals Court vacates new trial for former UMass football player convicted of rape


Staff Writer
Monday, May 09, 2022

NORTHAMPTON — The Massachusetts Appeals Court has vacated an order for a new trial for a former University of Massachusetts Amherst football player who was convicted of rape in 2019, sending the decision back to the judge for reconsideration.

Kareem Patrick Kwegor Amara, 26, was convicted in 2019 of three counts of rape stemming from an incident at a house party in Hadley in 2016. He was sentenced by Hampshire Superior Court Judge Mark Mason to five years in prison followed by three months of probation after his imprisonment.

However, in May of last year, Mason granted Amara a new trial based on ineffective counsel. He based his ruling on the affidavit of John Drake, Amara’s attorney at the time, who said that he had not read a report that could have been used to impeach the credibility of Amara’s accuser.

The Northwestern district attorney’s office appealed that ruling.

Amara was released from prison in December and is living with a friend in Boston while pursuing a master’s degree from Tufts University. He will not be imprisoned while Mason considers his response to the Appeals Court ruling.

In vacating the motion for a new trial, the Appeals Court notes that in an evidentiary hearing, Drake said that after he signed the affidavit stating that he hadn’t read the report he found that same report in his trial preparation file. While not specifically recollecting reading this report, as well as a similar report he found in that file, Drake testified in that evidentiary hearing that he must have read them.

The Appeals Court said that by acknowledging the evidentiary hearing testimony in his decision, Mason made it so he could not base the new trial decision on Drake having not read or reviewed the reports, and instead should have considered whether or not sharing them with Amara and failing to introduce them at trial would warrant a new trial.

The court’s decision also asks Mason to consider whether introducing the information in both reports discovered by Drake in his file would have been helpful to Amara at trial.

Both the Northwestern district attorney’s office and Amara’s current attorney declined to comment.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.