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Defendants Acquitted in De Anza Rape Trial

| April 7, 2011
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From Bay City News:

A Santa Clara County jury today found that a pair of former De Anza College baseball players are not liable for the alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old girl at a house party in 2007.

The jury of six men and six women found that there was no negligence on the part of the defendants, Christopher Knopf and Kenneth Chadwick, and they will not have to pay damages to the victim.

The verdict was read shortly before 9:30 a.m. today following several days of deliberation.

The civil trial came four years after the victim, who is now 21, claimed she was gang-raped by a group of baseball players at a party in unincorporated San Jose on March 3, 2007.

Three young women, identified as Lauren Bryeans, Lauren Chief Elk and April Grolle, pushed their way into the room where the victim was allegedly being assaulted and took her to the hospital.

Afterward, both Chief Elk and Grolle publicly described finding the vomiting semi-conscious girl in a room surrounded by eight men with one allegedly between her legs.

Eight members of the team were suspended due to team policy violations after the incident came to light.

The case was being tried in civil court before Judge Aaron Persky.

Knopf and Chadwick claimed that the sex was consensual. Another six men were also listed in the lawsuit when the trial began in late February, but they have all settled with the plaintiff or had the lawsuit dismissed.

In 2007, then-District Attorney Dolores Carr decided to not file criminal charges in the case, citing insufficient evidence, a decision that outraged some in the community.

Carr also asked the state attorney general’s office to investigate the case, and that office agreed that there was not enough evidence.

A few weeks ago, Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold tried to put the case in perspective, as well as recount how it contributed to the defeat of District Attorney Dolores Carr in last year’s election.

“On the issue of negligence, the jury will be asked to assign shares of fault — 60 percent here, say, or 40 percent there. They could even assign a share of blame to the victim,” wrote Herhold.

Apparently, the jury felt the defendants fair share was 0.

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Category: Education, Law and Justice

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  • John S

    I’m actually quite troubled by the lack of quality reporting on this issue. Multiple news organizations, Kron4, NBC11, etc, stated that the defendants Chadwick and Knopf claimed the sex was consensual. This implies that they participated in sex, and thus rape.

    But the two did not participate in sex. For example Chadwick was, by the plaintiff’s own admittance, in the room where the incident took place, for less than a minute. Other defendants who were sued for rape either were not physically present at the house, or were unconscious at the time. Yet all have continued to be labeled as rapists.

    What disturbed me was the lack of reporting regarding the plaintiff’s claims. It was repeatedly pointed out by the defense that major aspects of the soccer girls’ story were physically impossible, inconsistent, contradictory, or changed. In one glaring example, a man who the girls claimed to be participating in rape simply did not exist. In another example the girls changed their story of how they observed the incident; in direct contradiction of the story they had been sticking to, when it was shown that it was physically impossible. It was also shown during trial that the girls exaggerated and omitted key facts. While they claimed that the plaintiff was completely inebriated, they also admitted to observing her walking and functioning fine. Their testimony that the plaintiff could not leave the bedroom on her own was contradicted by multiple eye-witness testimony from the defendants and third-parties that this was simply untrue. Their claim that the girl was completely covered in vomit was directly contradicted by medical evidence showing the opposite. They omitted the fact that they induced the girl to vomit. They girls produced testimony that was riddled with even more inconsistencies, but from the beginning they have labeled multiple individuals rapists, even when contradicted by the facts. Very little of this was reported.

    What is also troubling is the use of intoxication to defend the plaintiff. Much has been made of the fact that the plaintiff was intoxicated, without mentioning that the defendants were also intoxicated. Multiple eye-witness statements proved that the plaintiff initiated sex multiple times, in explicit terms demanding it, and groping the genitalia of several drunken men, some of whom objected. On the witness stand the plaintiff did not dispute these accounts. This very act constitutes sexual assault and battery. Although the plaintiff initiated sex with drunken men, it is argued that it is the drunken men who are liable for rape because they reciprocated with a drunken woman. This interpretation is absurd.