Former University of Utah football player will stand trial for alleged rape

Editor’s observe: This story discusses sexual assault. If you could report or talk about a sexual assault, you may name the Rape & Sexual Assault Crisis Line at 888-421-1100.

An ex-University of Utah football player will stand trial on rape and sodomy prices in a case that has since drawn scrutiny for how college officers allegedly declined to assist the lady as she tried to report the athlete.

In a listening to on Thursday, a choose dominated there was sufficient proof offered by prosecutors in opposition to dismissed linebacker Sione Lund for the prison case to maneuver ahead. A trial date will be set later this fall.

Lund, now 23, faces two felony counts for the alleged September 2019 assault of Marissa Root, then a scholar at close by Utah Valley University.

The Salt Lake Tribune typically doesn’t determine sexual assault victims, however Root agreed to the use of her identify on this story. She joined the listening to remotely, listening as attorneys argued over the main points of the alleged assault at Lund’s home.

She has filed a separate ongoing civil case in opposition to UVU and the U. for turning her away when she requested for assist at each establishments after the alleged assault. UVU advised her to go elsewhere as a result of the alleged perpetrator wasn’t a scholar there, Root stated. And the U. stated it needed to help the athlete as a result of he was their scholar; she stated the advocate there by no means requested for his identify.

On Thursday, Lund sat within the courtroom in a masks and blue tie, saying little. The one-time high football recruit didn’t testify within the listening to and spoke solely as soon as, in response to a choose, saying he would comply with his legal professional’s recommendation to not embody his testimony. He nodded his head to enter pleas of not responsible to every cost.

The rows behind him have been stuffed along with his relations. On the opposite aspect of the aisle sat these there to help Root.

Andres Gonzalez, a prosecutor for the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, which introduced the costs in opposition to Lund, argued that Root’s statements to a nurse following the alleged assault and to the police later proved her misery on the scenario.

He additionally had the detective within the case testify to how Root appeared on the hospital, trying for a sexual assault examination package.

When responding there, Unified Police Detective Tiffany Parker, stated she recalled Root “was fairly upset. I keep in mind her face was crimson, her eyes have been crimson. It appeared as if she had been crying.”

After listening to arguments from each side, Judge Kristine Johnson stated whereas there have been some questions on witness credibility and when consent was withdrawn, there was “ample possible trigger” to go to trial.

Arguments and testimony in court docket

Documents — and the later civil case filed final yr by Root — observe that Root had simply began her sophomore yr at Utah Valley University within the fall of 2019. She deliberate to go to 1 of the primary events of the college yr with a bunch of pals at Lund’s home in Holladay.

Root had met Lund earlier than that night time by way of mutual pals. She advised the police she was not serious about him, in response to a possible trigger assertion. And she stated she had requested her pals on the occasion to assist hold him away from her as a result of she wasn’t comfy.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) “Title IX is the place the place victims are despatched,” stated Marissa Root, Dec. 13, 2021 of the dearth of sources and help she obtained at Utah Valley University after she reported a sexual assault in 2019. “They should do higher.”

But she later advised the police that in some unspecified time in the future he remoted her in his room. Root advised him, “No” a number of instances, in response to the charging paperwork, and repeated that she didn’t need to have intercourse with him. The police paperwork state that he then pressured himself on her, in addition to forcing her to carry out a intercourse act on him.

The paperwork say Root was ultimately capable of get free, seize her issues and depart the home. She went to a hospital after that with two pals and reported the case to the police.

Police say after they talked to Lund, he acknowledged having a celebration and stated he did have some sexual contact with Root, however he stated it was consensual. A swab carried out in his mouth was in comparison with a sexual assault examination package carried out on Root. Investigators say, based mostly on the outcomes, Lund may “not be excluded” as a match.

He was dismissed from the U.’s football crew in March 2020. The U. has since confirmed that motion got here “in consequence of the pending prison case.”

Lund’s legal professional, Tara Isaacson, referred to as a number of witnesses as she highlighted what she noticed as discrepancies within the proof.

She argued that there wasn’t a transparent line with what passed off within the bed room, between what was and wasn’t consensual. “It’s arduous to discern,” Isaacson stated. “It’s simply not clear what the road was.”

As such, she urged the choose to drop the sodomy cost. Johnson declined to take action, declaring in Root’s assertion that the lady had stated her head was held down and she or he could not breathe.

Isaacson additionally referred to as to the stand the forensic nurse who carried out the sexual assault examination of Root. Bonnie Miller testified that she noticed nothing “irregular” within the examination to point bodily markers of assault, like scratches or bruises.

But, in cross-examination, Miller famous these indicators should not current in all circumstances of assault and doesn’t imply that an assault didn’t happen. “Everybody’s physique responds to completely different trauma otherwise,” Miller stated.

A good friend and cousin of Lund’s additionally testified. Tau Muamata stated he was within the theater room of Lund’s home when the assault is alleged to have occurred. He stated he knew that Lund went into his bed room with Root. But all he may hear, Muamata stated, was laughing. He stated he was by no means questioned by the police about it.

Gonzalez requested Muamata if he was impaired in any respect throughout the occasion and whether or not he may have missed one thing. Muamata acknowledged he’d had 10 beers and “a pair photographs” of whiskey, however acknowledged he believed he was sobering up by 1 am, when the assault allegedly occurred.

Muamata additionally stated there have been between 10 and 15 folks on the occasion watching a film; he stated he knew possibly 4 of them and couldn’t keep in mind what film that they had on. But he stated he would not consider any of them heard something unusual.

Gonzalez questioned Muamata’s capacity to recall solely sure items of that night time, calling it “handy.”

Lund’s legal professional subsequent questioned the work of the police within the case, who she stated didn’t go to the crime scene to take footage or gather proof. She additionally faulted the Unified Police Department for shedding the recording of its unique interview with Lund.

The legal professional later had a non-public investigator take images of Lund’s home and speak to Lund’s pals, together with one other football player who was current on the occasion. The footage have been displayed within the courtroom Thursday, with Isaacson suggesting that as a result of the theater room was subsequent to the bed room, anybody exterior would have heard screams and never simply the laughs that Muamata recalled.

She additionally famous that Root had stated Lund locked the door throughout the assault, however she offered images of Lund’s room — taken by the investigator — that didn’t present a lock.

Isaacson moreover stated the detective within the case solely collected texts from Root and never Lund.

She confirmed texts from months earlier than the alleged assault the place the 2 have been calling one another “babe.” Isaacson believes that reveals Root had indicated curiosity in Lund earlier than.

Detective Parker testified that she had tried to get texts from Lund however that he refused to cooperate. She additionally stated getting images of the scene was “not needed on this case.”

Other allegations with football gamers

Root spoke publicly about her case shortly after a scholar at Utah State University, Kaytriauna Flint, filed go well with there over allegations that the Logan college brushes apart ladies who report they’ve been sexually assaulted by a member of its football crew, which she stated occurred to right here

And the U. has now seen not less than 4 prison circumstances involving football gamers allegedly assaulting or threatening ladies up to now three years.

Lund was dismissed from the crew on the identical time that one other player, Donte Banton, was additionally suspended. He is now not on the crew roster. Banton was later charged with rape, after the police allege he admitted to them {that a} lady he was with had advised him she wasn’t serious about intercourse however he went forward anyway.

Banton was football player Terrell Perriman’s roommate on the time. Perriman, was charged with allegedly kidnapping and raping a 17-year-old woman, after which had extra prices added by prosecutors for allegedly raping two different ladies.

Salt Lake City police have stated they’re investigating any connections on whether or not both man allegedly helped the opposite in finishing up an assault.

Perriman is dealing with eight felony counts, and his case remains to be pending in court docket. Banton has pleaded not responsible to a first-degree felony, and his case is shifting towards trial.

A fourth case involving a U. football player occurred in February 2019. In that case, a player was accused of threatening a 17-year-old woman on a voicemail that he would “kill her” and allegedly later locking her in his dorm room . He was charged with two misdemeanors.

That case drew consideration as a result of the U. police detective assigned to research it — Kayla Dallof — apparently left for the day with out taking any motion, regardless of figuring out in regards to the threats. She was fired for it.

Dallof had additionally delayed trying into considerations reported by Lauren McCluskey earlier than the student-athlete was killed by the person she was attempting to alert the police about.

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