ATTLEBORO — A former Wheaton College senior was placed on probation Friday after admitting to setting a half-dozen fires in her dormitory while attending the Norton school.
Appearing in Attleboro District Court, Janelys Pimentel, 23, of the Roslindale section of Boston, was placed on probation for three years and her case was continued without a finding for that duration after she admitted police had enough evidence to find her guilty.
Pimentel, who has no prior criminal record, was also ordered to pay restitution to be determined at a hearing in January.
Expelled from the college following the fires, she must continue wearing a GPS bracelet for the first year of her probation.
She was required to wear the monitoring device while out on bail after serving a week in jail following her arraignment in February.
Pimentel must also continue mental health counseling, stay away from the college and have no contact with its staff.
The fires occurred on various days between Nov. 28, 2018 until her arrest on Feb. 7 of this year. She was captured on security video igniting papers in a water bubbler on her dormitory floor.
The other fires were set in trash barrels in bathrooms and a laundry room, on carpeting and on a window sill at the dorm, Assistant District Attorney Natasha Azevedo said.
The fires alarmed students in the dorm, where Pimentel was a resident assistant, and on the campus, Azevedo said.
Local firefighters kept a watch after the initial fires occurred and college officials installed a security camera, which led to Pimentel’s arrest. Students also sought crisis counseling because of the fires, Azevedo said.
The prosecutor recommended that the judge impose a guilty finding and sentence Pimentel to a suspended two-year jail term with probation for three years.
“She put the lives and safety of the staff and the students at risk with these fires,” Azevedo said.
The prosecutor noted that Pimentel, as a resident assistant in her dorm, was in a position of responsibility and trust.
“She was one of the last people anyone would suspect in these fires,” Azevedo said.
Her lawyer, Robert Jubinville of Milton, said a psychologist found Pimentel’s behavior was the result of mental trauma she suffered during a home invasion in October 2018.
Pimentel was at her Roslindale home alone during a college break when two men entered the house, blindfolded her, taped her mouth and put a gun to her head before ransacking the house, the defense lawyer said. The first fire occurred a month later.
Azevedo said the district attorney’s office confirmed the account and had spoken to Boston police.
Azevedo said prosecutors would have recommended sending Pimentel to jail had it not been for her mental health issues, her lack of a criminal record and her youth.
Jubinville recommended that the case be continued for one year without a finding with probation because imposing a guilty finding would hamper his client’s opportunities in the future.
Her arrest came a few months before she would have graduated from Wheaton College. The defense lawyer said Pimentel continued her education and graduated this year from University of Massachusetts Boston.
In agreeing to continue the case without a finding for three years, Judge Edmund Mathers said he was persuaded by evidence that Pimentel’s actions were linked to the mental anguish she suffered in the home invasion.
“She’s got absolutely no criminal record and she was a standout student,” Mather said.
The judge warned Pimentel that if she violated her probation she could risk going to jail.
Afterwards, Pimentel declined comment.