Former UMass student gets 5 years for 2016 rape

  • Patrick K. Amara Jr. reacts after being found guilty on three counts of rape in Hampshire Superior Court. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

Staff Writer
Friday, May 10, 2019

NORTHAMPTON — A former University of Massachusetts student was sentenced last week in Hampshire Superior Court to five years in state prison for raping a fellow student in Hadley in 2016.

Patrick K. Amara Jr., 23, was found guilty of three counts of rape by a jury on Monday and was sentenced by Judge Mark Mason. He was also sentenced to three years probation, to be served upon his release.

The crimes occurred at a party in Hadley on April 30, 2016, and the female rape survivor was a 19-year-old UMass student at the time. She was present in the courtroom for Amara’s sentencing, submitted a victim impact statement and addressed the court.

“I’ve lived my life in fear, to the extent that I stopped going to classes, or being able to go around campus,” she said, her voice full of emotion. “I missed so much of my college experience because I was too afraid.”

The young woman said she has had trust issues as a result of the rapes, suffered from panic attacks and blacked out from stress.

“He took years of my life and happiness from me and left me with a trauma I have to carry with me forever,” she said.

The Gazette does not generally identify survivors of rape or sexual assault.

After she finished speaking, Mason said that he hoped the trial would help the young woman and her family to move forward.

“There’s no question that you have a very bright future ahead,” Mason said.

Amara currently lives in Georgia and is a citizen of both the United Kingdom and Sierra Leone, although he has lived most of his life in the United States. At the time of the crimes, he was a member of the UMass football team, having transferred from the University of Pittsburgh.

Prior to his sentencing, Amara, who will be required to register as a sex offender, read a statement in court addressing the judge.

“I’ve learned my lesson by losing everything I had and what I ever wished for in one night,” he said.

“Even though I look at the situation through a different lens, I still recognize my wrongdoings,” he continued. “I can man up like the man my father taught me to be and apologize.”

Amara said that sending him to jail would endanger his life, and asked that he be given probation so that he could continue to positively impact his communities.

“Please let me continue my life,” he said.

Amara also submitted an apology letter to the victim and her family, which the judge did not permit to be read aloud in court, although he said that it would be provided to the rape survivor and that he had read and considered the letter himself.

Sentencing arguments

The commonwealth asked for a 5-to-7-year state prison sentence for Amara on two of the rape counts, to be served concurrently, and 5 years probation on a third count of rape, which is within sentencing guidelines.

“Rape is a heinous crime,” said Assistant District Attorney Erin Aiello, referencing its lasting effects on survivors.

She asked that the judge not consider Amara’s level of intoxication at the time of the crimes or his age in sentencing him, noting that the victim was also young.

Amara’s attorney, John Drake, asked for his client to receive probation. He said that asking for probation after a rape conviction was unusual but not unheard of. He noted Amara’s lack of a criminal record, and said that the public does not need to be protected from him.

“He’s lived an extraordinary, exemplary life except for that day,” he said.

Drake pointed to Amara’s two full-ride scholarships at the University of Pittsburgh and UMass and his charity work on behalf of providing education for children in Sierra Leone. His attorney also said that Amara had stopped drinking and partying.

Drake said that the only purpose of sending Amara to prison would be punishment, and as he argued on behalf of his client, Amara began to cry. Amara’s sister and mother were also seen crying in the courtroom.

In sentencing Amara, Mason said that while he respected the defendant’s request, he described probation as “excessively inappropriate given the gravity of the crimes that have been committed.”

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