Judge orders trial for man accused of rape of 15-year-old girl in Lawrence
A Topeka man has been ordered to stand trial on a charge that he raped a 15-year-old girl last summer in Lawrence.
Monday in Douglas County District Court, Jordan K. Ross, 20, entered a plea of not guilty to the charge. After testimony at his preliminary hearing — which took place over two days in April and May — Judge James McCabria found there was probable cause to bind Ross over for trial on one count of rape by force or fear, a felony.
McCabria scheduled a weeklong trial for Ross to begin Nov. 26.
Charges against Ross were filed Dec. 28, 2017, and made public in late January 2018, when he was arrested and made his first appearance in court in the case. The alleged rape happened in August 2017, when Ross was 19 and the girl was 15.
The victim, now 16, testified on the first day of Ross’ preliminary hearing.
She described Ross as “an acquaintance” she’d met the week before who picked her and a friend up and drove them to a party at a house in Lawrence.
The girl said she’d been drinking alcohol and dancing before going to an upstairs bedroom, where she either fell asleep or “blacked out.”
She said the light was on, the door was open and several friends — none of them Ross — were hanging out in the room with her when she passed out.
When she woke, she said, the room was dark, the door was closed and Ross was pulling off her clothes, pinning her down and raping her. She said she screamed and told him to stop but that he “pushed my head into the bed so that nobody could hear me.”
Afterward, the girl said, she found her friend and went home with her for the rest of the night, falling asleep after taking something — she wasn’t sure what it was — to help her calm down. She said she went back to her own house the next day, told her mother about the rape the day after that, and they “made a decision to go to the police.”
Prior to the preliminary hearing, the Journal-World requested the affidavit prepared by police in support of Ross’ arrest. McCabria declined to release the document, citing the nature of the allegations and the victim’s age, ordering the document to remain sealed prior to the preliminary hearing “so as not to jeopardize the mental or emotional safety or well-being of the victim.”
Ross is out of jail pending his trial. Court records indicate he was released Feb. 1 after posting a $20,000 surety bond.
Prosecutor C.J. Rieg said she objected to scheduling the trial so far out and asked for an earlier date.
However, Ross’ defense attorneys wanted the extra time and Ross told the judge that he agreed to waive his speedy trial rights to accommodate the later date.
Attorney Sarah Swain handled Ross’ preliminary hearing, and Cooper Overstreet of Swain’s firm represented him Monday.
Overstreet said he needed time to review additional materials, including cell phone evidence and medical records from a sexual assault exam. Overstreet said he also intended to file “very substantive” motions, including a request to suppress statements Ross made to police that would require researching mental health documents including “records of my client’s disability.” Overstreet did not elaborate on that disability in court.
“It’s a rape case,” Overstreet said. “There’s lots of evidence.”
Have a tip or story idea?