BROCKTON — A former Bridgewater State University professor accused of sexually assaulting several female students while he worked at the college has been indicted.
A Plymouth County grand jury returned indictments on Wednesday charging Nicholas Pirelli, 37, of Plymouth, with one count each of rape, indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, engaging in sexual conduct for a fee and three counts of dissemination of obscene matter.
The indictments stem from reports made by several university students in March regarding encounters with Pirelli.
Police said the first woman, who was not a student of Pirelli’s, reported in March that he had raped her on campus on Oct. 20, 2019.
The student told police that she had met Pirelli last October through the website seeking.com, which matches “sugar babies” and “sugar daddies,” according to court documents. Pirelli offered to “spoil” the student, a police report states.
The woman told police she initially sent photos and videos, some depicting herself in the nude and in various stages of undress, to Pirelli after he requested “risky” pictures, the report states. When he learned that the woman was a student at the college, Pirelli allegedly told her, “We will have to be discreet.”
Pirelli also sent a nude photograph to the woman, the report states, and requested that they meet in person. Court documents state that Pirelli was using the website the two met on to find someone who would dominate him with whips and chains and he sent a photograph of his sex toy “collection” to the woman.
The week before the alleged rape, Pirelli sent $5 to the woman through the Venmo mobile phone app as a “test,” court documents state. Days later, the two agreed to meet at a Dunkin’ in West Bridgewater to “see if they had a good connection in person,” the report states. Pirelli sent the woman $20 through the app to cover her taxi ride to the meeting, it states.
Just three days later, Pirelli sent the woman $50 through the app for her to go shopping, the report states. Later that day, at about 9 p.m., Pirelli contacted the student and offered to help her with an essay she was writing, court documents state. Pirelli told her he was in his office inside the Maxwell Library on campus.
The woman told police Pirelli locked the door behind her when she got to the office. The two worked on her essay for about a half-hour, with Pirelli sitting at his desk and the woman behind the desk in a beanbag chair. Pirelli then stood up, turned around and “abruptly leaned over the victim,” who was still in the beanbag chair, the report states.
Pirelli leaned down toward the woman and kissed her, inserting his tongue into her mouth, the report states. The woman told police she felt trapped because she was in a low-sitting chair that was backed into the corner of the room.
“As Pirelli learned in, the victim placed her hands in front of her chest with her palms facing outwards, in an effort to prevent Pirelli from coming any closer or laying on top of her,” the report states.
The woman told police Pirelli then performed forcible anal oral sex on her, the report states.
The woman told police she did not intend to engage in any sexual activity with Pirelli and that she only wanted help with her essay and résumé. The woman told police she felt trapped, nervous, weird and uncomfortable throughout the encounter. The woman did report the incident to her two roommates the night it occurred, court documents state.
“Detectives found the victim credible throughout their interviews with her,” the police report states.
When interviewed by police, Pirelli initially told investigators he didn’t believe he knew the woman making an accusation against him. He denied ever using Venmo to send students money.
Pirelli later told police that he “may have” met the woman outside of a classroom, the report states. The detectives asked Pirelli if she was ever a guest in his office, to which he replied, “maybe,” it states. Pirelli initially declined to answer whether he had ever used the website seeking.com, but later stated “he did not have an account anymore,” the report states.
“When confronted with the report of inappropriate touching, Pirelli stated, ‘That is extreme,’ and stated that he did nothing wrong,” the report states.
Pirelli told police it was possible he had texted the woman, but denied having any physical encounters with her in his office. After police say Pirelli admitted to “maybe” meeting the woman online, he requested an attorney.
After Pirelli’s arrest was publicized in the media and communicated to the Bridgewater State campus community, several women filed complaints with police.
One woman, a student at the college, said she joined the seeking.com dating website last December looking for a way to supplement her income. She told police she didn’t have any intentions of meeting anyone from the website in person, but she was contacted by a man named Nick, who she later learned was Pirelli, who persistently tried to get her to meet in person, court documents state.
“The victim stated it was initially casual talk, however the defendant started to say very sexual things to her, stating that he wanted a woman to essentially dominate him sexually,” Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth O’Connell said at Pirelli’s second arraignment in March.
Pirelli would send her money through the Venmo mobile app “in an attempt to get her attention,” O’Connell said.
Pirelli sent the student $45 in January and an unknown amount in February, she said.
On Feb. 16, Pirelli texted the woman specifically trying to get her to meet in person, O’Connell said. He asked her if she had ever had anal sex, which she said she hadn’t, and he offered to “ease her into it,” O’Connell said. Pirelli offered the woman $200 to meet for dinner and to stimulate him with a sex toy during a public dinner in Plymouth, she said.
“This actually did not happen despite the defendant enticing her to do so,” O’Connell said.
Pirelli contacted the student as recently as March 1 to ask her what her plans were other than “missing out on me and $200 compensation,” O’Connell said.
After his second arrest, Pirelli’s attorney, Scott Bradley, called the initial rape charge against his client “the weakest I’ve seen in 20 years as a lawyer” and said the additional sex trafficking charge “isn’t going to go anywhere” and is “at best attempted sex for a fee.”
The indictment moves the case from Brockton District Court to Plymouth County Superior Court in Brockton, where more serious crimes are prosecuted and penalties are more severe if defendants are convicted.
Pirelli, who was placed on leave following his arrest, has since been terminated from Bridgewater State University, according to the district attorney’s office.
Pirelli is scheduled to be arraigned in Brockton Superior Court on Feb. 25.
Senior reporter Cody Shepard can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @cshepard_ENT. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.