DA won’t file rape charges from incident at KU basketball dorm; no suspect ever identified after alcohol-filled party
The Douglas County District Attorney’s Office will not file sex assault charges from a report that a 16-year-old girl was raped a year ago at the University of Kansas men’s basketball dorm.
The investigation and inquiry into the case has concluded, and a sexual assault suspect was never identified, DA Charles Branson said Friday.
“After an exhaustive review of all available reports, evidence and testimony, our office has determined there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a sexual assault occurred,” Branson said, in response to questions from the Journal-World.
“Unless additional evidence or reports come to light there is insufficient evidence to prove a crime was committed.”
For the past year, while the KU police investigation and the subsequent DA review of the case have been open, neither has answered any questions about the occurrences leading to the report.
On Friday, Branson shared some details with the Journal-World.
The teen had come to Lawrence with two female friends from out of state on the night of Dec. 17, 2016, and the three went to McCarthy Hall and met residents of the building there, Branson said. There was a party in one of the rooms, where “a large amount of alcohol was consumed,” Branson said.
A noise complaint was filed, after which the alleged victim was found and deemed a possible runaway, Branson said.
“After the initial investigation was conducted, an additional report was made of a possible sexual assault,” Branson said. He said that additional report came within a few days of the incident.
“The victim was unaware if a sexual assault had taken place,” Branson said.
He said that no witnesses in the case reported seeing any type of sexual assault occur and that there was never a suspect of a sexual assault identified.
The section of Kansas rape law cited on the police report defines rape as the following: “Knowingly engaging in sexual intercourse with a victim when the victim is incapable of giving consent because of mental deficiency or disease, or when the victim is incapable of giving consent because of the effect of any alcoholic liquor, narcotic, drug or other substance.”
In addition to the allegation of rape, the same KU police report included two other alleged crimes: contributing to a child’s misconduct and furnishing alcohol to a minor.
The DA’s review of the case has included all three.
“It remains a possibility that other misdemeanor, alcohol related charge(s) may be filed with the Court,” Branson said, in an email. “Our office cannot at this time discuss what those charges could be. Charges can be considered until the statute of limitations expires. That would be five years from the date of the offense.”
Asked whether the alleged victim is still communicating with his office, Branson said she is represented by an attorney.
In response to whether she wants charges to be filed and is willing to participate in prosecution, Branson said, “At this time, it is unclear if the alleged victim is willing to testify in this matter.”
According to the KU police report from the incident, the crimes allegedly occurred between 10 p.m. Dec. 17, 2016, and 5 a.m. Dec. 18, 2016, at McCarthy Hall, 1741 Naismith Drive on the KU campus.
KU police completed their investigation and turned over the case to the DA’s office May 9. The DA’s office requested additional testing of an undisclosed nature, which was completed this summer. The test results have been shared with the teen’s representative.
McCarthy Hall, an all-male apartment building, is home to about 40 students — roughly half KU men’s basketball players and half upperclass, nontraditional or transfer students.
All five witnesses listed in the rape report were 2016-17 KU men’s basketball team members. The report indicates police contacted three other people in connection with the case: a KU Athletics administrator and two 19-year-old women. In the separate but related runaway report, a basketball player was named as a witness along with the same two 19-year-old women.
Initially, the Dec. 18, 2016, police report also contained an allegation of possession of drug paraphernalia, but that was separated and prosecuted independently from the other alleged crimes.
In that case, then-KU basketball player Carlton Bragg Jr. — who transferred to Arizona State in the offseason — was charged in Lawrence Municipal Court with one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. Bragg received a diversion.
KU police said previously that drug paraphernalia was found during the McCarthy Hall case investigation but that there was no indication the drug paraphernalia was related to the sexual assault allegation.