'No Proof,' No Charges in De Anza Rape Case

Saturday, Oct 15, 2011  |  Updated 7:41 AM PDT
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'No Proof,' No Charges in De Anza Rape Case

Garvin Thomas

De Anza College baseball players were accused of gang raping a 17-year-old girl at a house party in 2007.

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Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced his office would not file criminal charges against the De Anza College baseball players accused of gang raping a 17-year-old girl at a house party in 2007.

Friday he said, "What happened on March 3, 2007, at 349 South Buena Vista Ave. in San Jose was reprehensible. It was inexcusable ... however, the district attorney's office cannot prove that a crime occurred and therefore will not file criminal charges."

Barbara Spector, one attorney who represented the victim in the civil trial, released a statement commenting on the district attorney's decision.

"We appreciate that District Attorney Jeff Rosen concluded, as we did, that what happened to Jessica was not her fault and that the suspects' behavior was not acceptable conduct in a civilized society," Spector said in a statement.

At a news conference in San Jose this Friday, Rosen said the district attorney's office reached its decision following an "exhaustive and extensive" review by experienced sexual assault prosecutor Ray Mendoza. He said after examining the facts and evidence in the case, the conclusion reached was that it would have been difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a sexual assault occurred.

Even so, Rosen said the investigation found that the suspects had sex with an intoxicated girl while other men watched and that one man tried to keep others from coming into the bedroom. He said their actions consistently showed more concern for themselves and each other than for the victim.

"I have two daughters, I have a brother, and I have nephews," he said. "That's not how you should raise your boys. In my view, there's really nothing to be proud of -- how they conducted themselves that night and how they conducted themselves during the investigation."

The decision of the district attorney's office reaffirmed the conclusion of a civil trial earlier this year where a Santa Clara County jury found that there was no negligence on the part of two of the defendants, Christopher Knopf and Kenneth Chadwick.

The defendants were found not liable and did not have to pay damages to the victim, Jessica Gonzalez, who was seeking $7.5 million.

The civil trial came four years after Gonzalez, who is now 22, claimed she was gang-raped by a group of baseball players at a party in 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 Gonzalez 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 for team policy violations after the incident came to light.

Knopf and Chadwick claimed that the sex was consensual. The allegations against them included negligence, battery, sexual battery, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, conspiracy, unlawful intercourse, rape of an unconscious woman, rape of an intoxicated woman, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Another six men were also listed in the lawsuit when the civil trial began in late February, but they settled with Gonzalez 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.

Rosen disagreed with the way the case was handled by his predecessor and before taking office in January, he pledged to reopen and review the case.

"The fact that we are not filing charges in this case should not be taken as indicative of anything beyond the facts of this particular case," Rosen said. "This office has, and will continue, to aggressively prosecute sexual cases."

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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