Student goes to court after charges of alleged assault

After allegedly threatening his roommate with a butane lighter Oct. 29, a first-year student is seeking to reduce his penalty in court.

Connor Ferreira allegedly threatened his roommate, first- year Zach Pittel, with a butane torch and prevented him from leaving their dorm room on the evening of Oct. 29, according to a Nov. 18 Cynic article.

Ferreira was released Nov. 4 on $10,000 bail, according to court documents.

Victim’s advocate Kathyria Ferrer-Rodriguez spoke on Pittel’s behalf, indicating that Pittel wanted to increase the charges against Ferreira.

“He wanted a harsher punishment,” Ferrer-Rodriguez said. “The understanding from him was that the defendant was spreading rumors around school that [Pittel] was the aggressor and that he [is] having issues now with regards to that.”

Ferreira’s attorney, Richard Goldsborough said Ferreira was not trying to harm Pittel with a torch.

“These people are friends,” Goldsborough said. “They went to a party together the very next day on Halloween after this incident. There were no injuries to Mr. Pittel. There was alcohol and marijuana used by my client. It was fuzzy.”

“UVM decided that he would not be expelled for this,” Goldsborough said.

“They’re allowing him to finish his current semester before the suspension kicks in, and they’re allowing him back in after two semesters of suspension provided he signs up and completes the Discovery program,” he said.

He applied for the Center for Student Ethics and Standards’ Project Discovery program, Goldsborough said.

The program is an alternative to suspension designed to increase participants’ awareness of their substance abuse and violence prevention, according to the Center for Health and Wellbeing’s website.

If accepted, Ferreira will return to UVM and complete the program under probation after a two-semester suspension. If not, he will be suspended for three full semesters, Goldsborough said.

Keith Smith, the coordinator for men’s outreach at CAPS and co-facilitator of Project Discovery, said he associates violence in men with their expected role in society.

“Men become violent be- cause we socialize men to sup- press pretty much all of their feelings except anger,” Smith said. “The other emotions are considered signs of weakness, and men are always trying to show they aren’t weak.”

Chittenden County attorney Stacy Graczyk, who represents the state of Vermont in this case, said the state understood that drugs and alcohol were involved in the altercation.

“We wanted a pre-assessment done concerning substances and mental health issues,” Graczyk said.

Pittel did not appear at the hearing. Graczyk said she felt it would be a better option to wait to hear from Pittel himself. Judge Gregory Rainville decided to postpone the hearing until Dec. 10, pending testimony from Pittel.