A Douglas County jury on Thursday acquitted a 21-year-old Pratt man of a charge that he raped a Kansas University student in March 2008.
“This was a case where the prosecution’s theory was not supported by any of the physical evidence in the case,” defense attorney Sarah Swain said after the verdict was read.
During two days of testimony, prosecutors accused him of entering a dorm room and having sex with an intoxicated female Kansas University student on March 9, 2008, at Gertrude Sellards Pearson Residence Hall.
Swain said the woman let the defendant sleep in bed with her that night and that he left the room after she asked him to get a condom. The defense said the woman, who was a KU freshman at the time, later changed her story because she didn’t want another man she was interested in to find out about the defendant, who was visiting friends in Lawrence that weekend who lived in the same dorm.
Jurors deliberated for more than four hours Thursday before finding the man not guilty of the rape charge.
Amy McGowan, a chief assistant Douglas County district attorney, during closing arguments Thursday morning told jurors the DNA evidence in the case supported the defendant getting interrupted while having sex with the female student. McGowan said two of her friends saw him having sex with her before they confronted him because they said she was unconscious.
But Swain argued that the physical evidence did not point to the defendant raping the female student because her clothes were not torn, she had no physical injuries and his DNA was not found on her clothing, in the sexual assault kit or in the room.
“Investigators only looked for evidence that supported her accusation. They didn’t interview witnesses that could have corroborated his version that it was a consensual encounter,” said Swain, who defended the man along with Jessica Travis.
McGowan and Mark Simpson, an assistant district attorney, prosecuted the case.
“This was a difficult case because there was not a lot of evidence besides the word of the parties involved,” District Attorney Charles Branson said in a statement. “However, there was enough corroborating evidence that the case needed to be heard and decided by a jury.”
The defendant was in Douglas County Sheriff’s custody during the trial. Swain said he now hopes to work to finish college.
The Journal-World generally does not identify sex crime suspects unless they are convicted.