Former MIT Student Apologizes To Assault Victim For 'Inexcusable Behavior'

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Former MIT student Samson Donick speaks in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday. (Courtesy Faith Ninivaggi/Boston Herald, via pool)
Former MIT student Samson Donick speaks in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday. (Courtesy Faith Ninivaggi/Boston Herald, via pool)

Editor's Note: This story contains details some may find upsetting.

A former Massachusetts Institute of Technology basketball player made an emotional apology to his sexual assault victim in a Boston courtroom Tuesday, and will avoid prison time.

Samson Donick, 22, apologized to the victim, a 22-year-old former Boston University student, and to her parents, for what he called "his inexcusable behavior that night," Oct. 18, 2015, when, he admitted, he broke into her dorm room at BU while she was asleep.

Donick had been charged with aggravated rape and his trial was due to start Thursday, but after his victim said she would not testify, prosecutors, doubtful that they could obtain a conviction, agreed to a plea bargain.

On Tuesday, Donick pleaded guilty to indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, assault and battery, and breaking and entering with intent to commit a misdemeanor.

The charge of indecent assault and battery carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Judge Janet Sanders agreed to waive incarceration and instead impose a five-year probation sentence, with GPS monitoring that could be reduced to three years. She also imposed 1,000 hours of community service, and Donick must undergo sex offender treatment.

He lives in Tiburon, California, with his family, but according to one of his attorneys has been volunteering in Puerto Rico since the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. The conditions of his release on bail included surrendering his passport, and not returning to Massachusetts save for court appearances.

While Donick will not have to register as a sex offender in Massachusetts, Sanders noted that it's likely that he will have to register as one in California.

His parents, a brother and a sister accompanied him in court.

As a condition of the plea bargain, Sanders made Donick describe in open court what he did to his victim.

"I entered the room," Donick said hesitantly on the stand. "I touched her vagina. I put her hand on my penis and when she asked me to stop, I left."

"Placed her hand on your erect penis?" Sanders asked.

"Yes," Donick replied.

The victim then took the stand.

"Not only did my life forever change the moment I was touched by you," the victim told Donick through tears, during her victim impact statement, "but so were my parents, my sisters, my grandparents, my boyfriend and my closest friends.

"I ask that you make your future untainted," she told Donick. "I ask that you make a positive impact in every life you touch, because the impact you made in mine and in my family's are enough for a lifetime."

"She's incredibly courageous and it breaks my heart that I'm responsible for this," Donick told the court. "I feel deep, deep shame for having caused [the victim] to go through this."

WBUR does not name victims of sexual assault without their consent.

This article was originally published on April 10, 2018.

This segment aired on April 10, 2018.


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Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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