SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 6, 2014

Concern after off-campus incidents lead to arrests in Beverly

BY JULIE MANGANIS
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — Last month, it was a student from New Jersey charged with random attacks on fellow students, leaving two of them seriously injured, after leaving a party.

And last weekend, it was a series of arrests at two off-campus house parties. One of them required the response of nearly the entire on-duty shift of Beverly police to the scene, and it was the 25th time police had been to the apartment since the start of the school year in September, police said.

To one Salem District Court judge, it seemed, the Endicott College students have been “thumbing your nose up” at the neighbors who live in the neighborhoods.

“I want to be very clear,” said Salem District Court Judge Matthew Machera during a hearing Tuesday. “This may seem like a joke to you, but people live here and work here in this community and I’ve got better things to do than to have to deal with people who ought to know better.”

To Endicott College’s president, it points to a larger issue, of underage drinking and of the effect of social media.

“I think the biggest problem we have is that college kids can no longer have a small party,” said Endicott College President Richard Wylie. As soon as someone posts a photo on Facebook, Twitter or other social media, dozens of others will show up.

“If 15 people know a party is happening, 100 will show up,” said Wylie. And the combination of large parties with unsupervised underage drinking is, he suggested, a problem across the country, not just at Endicott.

Beverly police Chief John LeLacheur said he’s met with officials from the college since being sworn in and continues to work with the school.

Like Wylie, he believes the problem is common, recalling his work as a state trooper in New Hampshire dealing with rowdy students.

What’s different now is the ease with which word of a party is spread.

“You’ll have 100 people showing up when it was intended to be a small gathering of friends,” said LeLacheur. He is trying to work with the college to find a way to get notice to the department sooner when parties start to get out of control.

Last month’s arrest of sophomore Dillon DeStefano, 19, on charges stemming from random assaults that left one student with a broken jaw and another with a broken eye socket, put a spotlight on the school. DeStefano remains in custody and has been indicted in the case.

Then, seven Endicott College students and three of their friends were in Salem District Court Tuesday, days after they were arrested by police who were called to break up two separate house parties off campus late Saturday and early Sunday.

The first party, at 36 Bartlett St., brought police to the house twice on Saturday evening.

The first time police responded to a noise complaint, Caitlin Pryor, 22, of Cumberland, R.I., who is one of the young women leasing the apartment, initially told police they couldn’t come inside and suggested that the noise was coming from people using a balcony, Beverly police Sgt. David Richardson said.

The second call, shortly before midnight, led to four police cruisers being called to disperse a crowd of 30 partygoers. Two of them were found hiding under a bed. Police described the apartment as littered with bottles, with a “beer pong” table set up in one room.

Richardson said there have been 25 calls to the apartment since the start of the school year. He also noted that police had spoken with the residents about prior complaints.

Last year, the police went to 20 complaints at the same house.

Besides Pryor, police arrested Olivia Gates, 22, of Danvers, and Alyssa Morrisoe, 21, who listed her address at 36 Bartlett St., Beverly, on charges of disturbing the peace.

They were also placed on three months of pre-trial probation, with 20 hours of community service. Their cases will be dismissed if they stay out of trouble.

Machera warned that if they get into trouble again, “this will haunt you for the rest of your life.”

“I think they’ve learned a lesson,” said lawyer Brad Keene, who represented Gates and also spoke on behalf of Morrisoe yesterday.

Three men who are not students but who were in the apartment, Gustavo Mesa, 20, of Stratford, Conn., Chris Elser Jr., 21, of Southbury, Conn., and Daniel Riley, 23, of Hanover, had charges of disorderly conduct dismissed on the payment of $150 court costs.

Less than two hours later, four young men were arrested after police were called to a party at 9 Mason St. early Sunday around 1 a.m.

Richardson told the judge that when police arrived there were 100 to 150 people at the party.

The four arrested had given police a hard time, Richardson said, questioning the officers’ request that they leave.

Patrick Lyons, 21, of Westport, Conn., Ryan Hansen, 21, of West Haven, Conn., Kevin Green, 23, of Darien, Conn., and Anthony Gesualdi, 21, of Johnston, R.I., were all charged with disturbing the peace and violating the city’s noise ordinance.

At first, Richardson recommended that the charges be dismissed on performance of 20 hours of community service.

“I’m not going to let them off that easily,” said Machera. He added a condition that the four remain on pre-trial probation for the next three months.

Wylie said the students may also face possible discipline by the school as a result of their arrests. The school has suspended students or ordered them to perform community service in the past, he said.

Wylie stressed that most of the students who live off campus are well-behaved; they’re upperclassmen who are required to maintain their grades before they’re allowed to move to off-campus apartments.

“In some ways a strong message needs to be sent to the students living off campus that they can’t disrupt neighbors,” said Wylie, who said he supports police making arrests if there is no other option.

Wylie also encouraged neighbors to contact the school to report problems; he has designated a staff member to try to mediate situations before they get out of control, he said.

But his authority over off-campus students is limited, said Wylie, who acknowledged that some of the students have been less than respectful to police. That’s something he wants to change.

“We need to work on that,” Wylie said.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.