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The Blue & Gray Press | June 26, 2017

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Former UMW sergeant arrested for sexual assault

Former UMW sergeant arrested for sexual assault

By ESTER SALGUERO

William Somers, former sergeant on the University of Mary Washington’s police force and Lexi Coleman, the victim of an alleged sexual assault reported in December, were both present at the Fredericksburg General District preliminary hearing on Thursday Jan. 14. Judge John Stevens assessed that the case should be sent to circuit court, according to The Free-Lance Star.

In the General District courtroom Coleman, a 24 year-old woman who recently returned to Fredericksburg in April after enduring several months of recovery to undergo a gender conversion, spoke her testimony. Coleman disclosed that she had informally known Somers over the course of about three years.

The alleged assault took place at the Anderson Center on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 in the afternoon, according to CBS News. Coleman’s testimony described the surroundings as an area overlooking the Ron Rosner Arena basketball court. The Free-Lance Star also stated that Coleman claimed to have had exchanged a flirtatious conversation over text and confessed to having sent intimate pictures earlier the same day.

Coleman also asserted that she “did not want to have sex with Somers,” according to The Free-Lance Star. During Coleman’s testimony, she stated how she left to the hospital later in the day on Dec. 12 and received a sexual assault forensic examination in which the results proved to be consistent.

Somers was arrested on Dec. 16, 2015 by the Virginia State Police and was charged with two felony counts of forcible sodomy. He was hired in 2011 by the University and was a part of UMW’s police force for about four years. Michael Hall, Chief of Police at UMW, spoke about how he knew ‘Bobby,’ referring to Somers, through his involvement with the community Little League.

Along with Somers’ engagement in the community’s Little League, he also was in charge of the Rape Aggression Defense program at UMW until he resigned from the department on Dec. 14 and turned himself in on the charges. After the department fired Somers, officer Tegan Lewis replaced Somers and is now in charge of the Rape Aggression Defense program.

Chief Hall has held his status as Chief of Police for about a year. He spoke of the embarrassment and hurt that the department has been “shouldering” through this process. “When that trust is fractured it’s catastrophic for the rest of the department because we shoulder that hurt,” Hall said.

Despite the pain that Hall has expressed along with others in the department, he still remains compassionate toward Somers. In an interview at the Brent Station accompanied by Captain Sandor, Hall pointed how it is important for him to remain cautious when judging others by the actions they have committed because he chooses to dwell on what a person does after the fact instead of what has already transpired.

Hall acknowledged that he cannot change what has happened but was assertive in stating that the department does not tolerate these actions.

“We don’t condone that type of activity by [any] means,” Hall said.

Students have expressed two very different attitudes with their concerns about the police force and the campus. Victoria Anderson, a junior history major, was unsure about the hiring process in which the officers must undergo.

“It makes me wonder about the people UMW hires,” Anderson said. However, another student stated that she confided in the police department to make the necessary improvements she felt might increase safety on campus.

“I’m disappointed to hear that this event happened but I feel that campus police will adjust their hiring process,” Megan McLaughlin, a junior biology major, stated.

Hall made it known that he would make improvements if the department finds areas where it should be necessary. He also spoke of the urgency that the department felt to move forward from this situation and how to learn to work with the community during this process by being as transparent as is legally possible.

The department was notified about the case immediately and the UMW police department has been cooperating with Virginia State Police to expose the incident in order to move on. Hall  expressed his concerns about the victim in hopes that she may find stability through this process. The case is now on its way to the grand jury to determine the indictment.

Comments

  1. Mary Washington Alumna

    “Despite the pain that Hall has expressed along with others in the department, he still remains compassionate toward Somers.”

    For a Chief of Police to feel compassion for a rapist is not only disgusting but indicative of the appalling state of rape culture that is permissible in campus police forces. The University of Mary Washington should be ashamed.

  2. Jake Kalkstein

    Hall stated that it’s important for him to remain cautious when judging others, adding explicitly that he does not tolerate Somer’s actions by any means.
    Yet you write “despite the pain that Hall has expressed along with others in the department, he still remains compassionate toward Somers.”
    This is a misrepresentation of what Hall actually said and is a bit defamatory considering the context of your article, don’t you think?
    The word “compassionate” connotes that Hall is actually sympathizing with Somers, an alleged rapist, which is not the case. Rather Hall is asserting that he is in no place to judge another human being for his or her actions and is therefore detaching himself in that respect.

  3. Great aretlci, thank you again for writing.

  4. Alexis c

    Amen I feel nobody has came hard and to the victims and the Mary Washington campus Apologize

  5. Alexis c

    I feel bad that nobody came forward to apologize to the victim and The students of Merry Washington campus

  6. Anonymous

    Test

  7. Anonymous

    This man was convicted before the trial. Calling him a rapist but the facts came out in the end. NOT GUILTY! Moral of the story, Don’t ever judge before the full story comes out.

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