Judge sets bond for suspect in assault of 3 CofC students; Victims testify at hearing

Richard Jarecki, the man accused of assaulting three CofC coeds. (Source: Charleston County Sheriff's Office)
Richard Jarecki, the man accused of assaulting three CofC coeds. (Source: Charleston County Sheriff's Office)
Photos of the vehicle police say the suspect fled in (Source: Charleston PD)
Photos of the vehicle police say the suspect fled in (Source: Charleston PD)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A judge set bond Thursday for the 23-year-old man accused of assaulting three College of Charleston coeds.

Richard Jarecki of James Island is charged with three counts of second-degree assault and battery, according to Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis. Jarecki was initially only charged with one count, but police said additional charges were pending.

The judge set a $150,000 surety bond for Jarecki and ordered him to stay away from the College of Charleston campus or the area where the incidents occurred.

At Thursday's bond hearing, Jarecki's attorney, Eck Niravong, told the judge his client is single with no children. Niravong said Jarecki has family in the area and has never been arrested for a violent offense before.

Two of the three victims spoke in court as a victim advocate stood by their side.

"While the nature of this crime did not leave any physical scars, it did leave mental and emotional scars," the first victim told the court. "For the next several years and perhaps even for the rest of my life, whenever I leave my house, I will be gripped by the fear of being attacked in the same way. When I approach a person on the street as I did with Mr. Jarecki, I will forever be reminded of the way he lunged at me and grabbed my breast. I was two minutes away from my front door. ... I keep wondering if I could have prevented this from happening to me by staying just a moment longer at the library or at my previous meeting. But then I think about the fact that Mr. Jarecki would just have attacked another young woman like myself in that same place and might have harmed her even more than me… In the end, I do not wish the terror of this experience on another person."

"I was walking to my friend's apartment which I've walked fifty-something times before," the second victim said, crying as she read her statement. "This time I was attacked. I feel like I can't even walk down the street without being scared which is something I've never felt before. I feel like my freedom has been taken away on my own campus. And I would never wish this on anyone. I don't want this to happen to anyone else."

The advocate said the third victim could not be in court due to her class schedule but spoke on her behalf.

"This was a random but very serious attack," the advocate said. "The crimes weren't just grabbing and touching; they were sexual in nature."

The incidents occurred on Tuesday between 8:50 p.m. and 9:10 p.m., police say.

Officers responded to one assault at the corner of Pitt and Vanderhorst Streets around 9 p.m. Police say 15 minutes later, a second victim reported an assault in the same manner at the intersection of Pitt and Calhoun streets. A third victim reported Wednesday morning being similarly assaulted around the same time.

College of Charleston students received an alert of the incident. They didn't happen on campus but it was close by.

College officials say they do not tolerate this kind of behavior.

CofC student Maddie Heid heard about the assault from the school.

"It's a little freaky I'm not going to lie, I'm new here and it makes me a little scared for my safety," Heid said.

A campus email alert says the suspect grabbed one of the victim's breast and then fled to a dark-colored pickup truck which was parked on Pitt Street.

CofC student Evans Beach says he sees women who are mistreated by strangers on campus.

"I've walked with girls on campus or like around the city, men will just stop and say whatever they want and stop and stare at them and it's not cool," Beach said.

The Charleston Police report says the suspect also ran at one of the victims, the victim fought back and the suspect threw her to the ground.

"It wasn't their fault that they were alone that they were there at that time," Beach said. "It's 100 percent on the person that committed the crime."

CofC student Madison Kull says she is careful when walking around campus.

"When I walk home alone I make sure I'm on the phone with someone and I have my pepper spray out just because I don't want something like that to happen to me, it's scary," Kull said.

People Against Rape provides services in the Tri-County area for adult survivors of sexual violence confidentially and free of charge. If you, or someone you know, has been raped or sexually assaulted, help is available. Call 843-745-0144 to speak with a trained crisis advocate. That crisis line is available 24 hours a day.

PAR also provides accompaniment for sexual assault forensic exams at MUSC,  legal and law enforcement advocacy, support groups for adult survivors of sexual assault, adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse and for their loved ones.

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