Photo: Ian Fuller
A Santa Clara County jury 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. Thursday following several days of deliberation.
"Justice wasn't served," juror 10 told NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo.
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.
Former golf professional Roger Maltbie, father of one of the accused boys, says the decision vindicates Carr and the state attorney general's office for not filing criminal charges.
But the plaintiff does not feel the same. Her attorney issued the following statement:
Ms. Doe wishes to express her gratitude for the time and dedication the jury devoted to her case.
The jury was told about a seventeen-year-old who was served shots of alcohol at a party and became highly intoxicated. At that point, members of the De Anza College Baseball Team made a choice: instead of keeping the young woman out of harm’s way, they confined her in a small bedroom and engaged in group sexual activity.
When three De Anza College soccer players, Lauren Bryeans, Lauren Chief-Elk and April Grolle, rescued the teenager by breaking into the room, they found her with vomit on her face, partially clothed, and in a semi-comatose state requiring hospitalization. The baseball team members then made another choice: they walked out of the bedroom and did nothing to assist.
In telling her story, Jane Doe wishes to focus attention on these choices, and encourage the example set by the soccer players of caring for, rather than exploiting, one another.