Homeless man gets three years for Northampton rape

Hampshire County Courthouse

Hampshire County Courthouse STAFF FILE PHOTO

By JAMES PENTLAND

Staff Writer

Published: 04-15-2024 12:33 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Days before he was due to go on trial, a man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in his tent in Northampton in 2022 agreed to plead guilty Wednesday to two counts of rape with threat of bodily injury.

Hampshire Superior Court Judge Karen Goodwin sentenced Nathaniel Hargis to three years in prison and two years probation, to run concurrently, with a recommendation that a portion of the sentence be served at the Hampshire County jail.

He must register as a sex offender, receive mental health evaluation and treatment as directed by probation, and stay away from the victim. He was given credit for the 670 days he has spent in jail since his arrest on the charges.

Hargis, 29, who was homeless when he was arrested, was represented by attorney Lisa Lippiello. The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Sandra Staub.

Through his guilty plea, Hargis admitted that, on the night of June 8, 2022, he invited a woman back to his tent in the woods off Manhan and Lyman roads and forced her to have sex.

He was arrested soon afterward and ordered held without bail. He was indicted by a Hampshire County grand jury on Aug. 4 on two counts of rape with threat of bodily injury.

Around the same time, he was charged with two other offenses. In April 2022, a charge of photographing an unsuspecting nude person was brought after an employee at the Smith College Brown Fine Arts Center told police she had caught him pointing a phone camera at her in the women’s bathroom.

Later in August, he was charged with open and gross lewdness for allegedly exposing himself on the Smith College campus on June 3.

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In that case, a woman told police June 21 that a man who had been swimming naked on the Smith College campus exposed himself to her on June 3 at around 5:30 a.m., shortly after sunrise, according to court records.

The woman said she had recently read a Gazette story about Hargis’ charges and looked up a photo of him online. She said she was “99%” sure that he was the swimmer who, 18 days earlier, had emerged nude from the Mill River while she was walking her dog nearby, records state. She described him as “aggressively naked.”

The status of the Northampton District Court cases was unclear Friday.