Grand Jury: No Crime Committed In Social Media Sexual Assault Case

By
Tom Hodson
Grant Burkhardt
Atish Baidya
Athens Messenger staff reports

Dateline
Updated Mon, Oct 28, 2013 5:06 pm
Photo Credit: 
Jasmine Beaubien
Court Street at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio

The Athens County Grand Jury refused to bring any indictments in the sexual incident that occurred Homecoming weekend and was captured and transmitted through social media.

The grand jury has found that no crime was committed in the alleged Court Street sexual assault, according to Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn.  He made the announcement at a news conference Monday afternoon after the grand jury met to consider the matter.

The female reported to investigators that she had no memory of the event, Blackburn added. The male reported remembering the incident, according to Blackburn.*

Blackburn also said no charges will be brought against anyone who photographed or videoed the incident and spread it through various social media channels.

Public indecency charges, which are misdemeanors, were considered in the matter and Blackburn acknowledges that he feels public indecency was committed.  However, Blackburn has recommended that misdemeanor charges not be filed because the public shame of the incident has been enough, he says.

Grand jury testimony is secret, however, the Athens Police Department investigation shows that a 20-year-old Ohio University male and 20-year-old Ohio University woman obtained alcohol from an uptown bar.

The couple left after closing and began kissing at several locations moving from North Court Street to South Court Street. The male and female were chased from a hood of a car, which they were laying on and kissing.

At approximately 3 a.m., they stopped in front of Chase Bank where the male performed sex acts on the female. The female was responsive, smiling and grabbed the back of the male's head, according to Blackburn.

At one point the male asked the female if he should stop because they were building a crowd. The female answered, "No." This was confirmed by an independent witness that was on the scene, according to Blackburn.

The male involved was punched by another person outside Big Mama's burritos shortly after incident ended.

After leaving Chase Bank, the male and female were seen on video voluntarily going to the male's apartment. They arrived to the apartment at approximately 3:34 a.m. and left at approximately 6:30 a.m.

The couple was then at the BP gas station on Court Street for about seven minutes. The female was responsive, visualized and screamed out her roommate's name and left with the male, who walked her home. The male provided the female with his cellphone number via a text message.

The male has voluntarily cooperated with the investigation. The female has no memory of the incident, according to Blackburn. Lab results show the female's system was clean of any date rape drug, Blackburn added. Neither party was aware that the incident at Chase Bank was videotaped.

In a press release, Prosecutor Blackburn warns of the dangers of social media.

“This case should remind us of the dangers of social media and new media in our lives. From the time the incident occurred until now, social media has: 1) identified the wrong female, 2) has spread false rumors and 3) permanently documented the choices these two 20 year-olds made on October 12th, 2013,” Blackburn said.

“Every decision we make now has the potential to be placed on Twitter, Facebook, commented on, shared and embellished, making life today more public than ever before. If a lesson exists from this case, let it be that we should behave as if our family is always watching. We have a responsibility to represent the community well,” Blackburn noted.

“While no crime was committed in the eyes of the court, I find it deeply problematic that both parties don’t have a recollection of what happened that night,” Allie Erwin, Ohio University senior and co-founder of F**kRapeCulture, responded.

“From an ethical standpoint, you can’t give consent unless you are sober and I hope going forward people choose to reflect on what consent really means to them,” Erwin added.


*An earlier version of the story included the information that neither the male nor the female had a memory of the event. Monday evening, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn corrected his statement from the press conference, saying that only the female reported having no memory of the incident

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