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Would-Be Law Student Accused Of Rape Loses Fight To Attend Class

August 26, 1986

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ A would-be law student charged with rape lost his request Tuesday for a court order to force a law school to allow him to attend classes while he fights the criminal charge.

″It seems he has already been convicted before trial, at least by the school,″ lawyer Daniel A. Pava said in court of his client, Michael R. Hoffman.

Hoffman, who faces arraignment Wednesday on an indictment charging him with aggravated rape and larceny, had requested a preliminary injunction against Western New England College.

Pava said he was unsure whether Hoffman would appeal Tuesday’s decision.

Pava had argued before Hampden Superior Court Judge William Welch that the college had breached its agreement with Hoffman, who was accepted to the law school in April, by refusing earlier this month to allow him to begin his studies without a school hearing.

The school’s attorney, Paul H. Rothschild, denied that the school had based its decision on Hoffman’s guilt or innocence or that it had breached a contract. Hoffman had paid an admissions fee in April, before he was charged with rape in late July.

Rothschild said Dean Howard I. Kalodner was concerned about the school’s potential liability by permitting Hoffman on campus. ″If something else were to happen, you can bet that the school would be blamed,″ he said in court.

″I believe that his presence would create a substantial disruption in the operation of the law school, causing serious and irreparable harm to the education process,″ Kalodner said in an affidavit.

In another affidavit, law Professor Cathy J. Jones, whom Rothschild said had refused to teach Hoffman, said: ″As a woman faculty member, I would not feel safe or comfortable working and studying in a building where I knew there was present a student under indictment for rape.″

Earlier, Hoffman, who is free on $5,000 bail, downplayed these concerns.

″That is just unfounded. ... I think the law school really isn’t concerned about that, but that my so-called disreputability that might make them look bad to have me there.″

Hoffman said he was in a West Springfield nightspot the night of July 19 and early hours of July 20, talking and dancing with two women whom he met there, at the time the rape was alleged to have occurred in Springfield. One of the two, Jeanne Rossi, said Monday: ″He was with us the whole time.″

Police released few details of the rape, but Hoffman said he had learned that the victim told police she was raped by a man in his mid 20s, and that her purse with her ID was apparently stolen from her car because the man began making harassing calls to her home.

She engaged the man in conversation, and arranged to meet him July 21 at a convenience store, with police waiting outside.

Hoffman said he stopped at the store at the wrong time and was assumed to be the rapist.

″I used to say when anybody gets charged they must be guilty. Now I realize there are people who are innocent and get picked up for crimes they didn’t commit. It can happen to anyone,″ Hoffman said.

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