Sexual assault probe closed

By Holly Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 22, 2005

Lack of evidence cited in case where 2 student athletes were questioned

Authorities closed an investigation involving a UA student who said she was sexually assaulted at a campus fraternity house last spring, according to a police report released Thursday.

The student alleged in April she was sexually assaulted in a community shower at a party at the Sigma Pi fraternity house, 1525 E. Drachman St., but decided June 15 she no longer wanted to press charges, reports stated.

The Pima County Attorney's office determined Thursday there was insufficient evidence to support charges against the two students questioned, whose names have been withheld by the University of Arizona Police Department, reports stated.

According to the report, the two students were members of a UA men's athletic team.

Joe DiVita, Sigma Pi Fraternity president, told the Wildcat last spring that the individuals being investigated were not members of the fraternity or of the UA greek system.

Sergeant Eugene Mejia, UAPD spokesman, said further details on the two men will not be released since no charges have been brought against them.

"We don't want any undue bad publicity if the evidence and the facts in the case aren't proven or sufficient enough to bring charges," Mejia said.

Because sexual assault is a very serious accusation, Mejia said it is the responsibility of police to protect the identity of the individuals because they have not been charged

"When you're taking someone's freedom away, you have to be 100 percent right," he said.

At the time of the incident, the female student, who is a member of a sorority, told police she was attending a Spring Fling party when she entered a dark community bathroom.

The student said two men confronted her and she remembered being pushed down, but said she then blacked out, reports stated.

The student told police she awoke in the shower and was shaking. A friend then took the student to Tucson Medical Center where she was examined and said she wished to press charges, reports stated.

The accused men were questioned and agreed to give DNA samples, according to the report.

Even though the student later decided not to press charges, police still pursued the case because they wanted to make sure they had conducted a full investigation, Mejia said.

"Even if the victim is not willing to prosecute we cannot minimize the importance of a case. There is often only one chance to collect good evidence and to interview good witnesses," he said.

Mejia said sexual assault victims often have trouble deciding whether to prosecute because their emotions are high and psychological problems may have occurred as the result of an assault.

Alcohol also played a factor in the case, like most of the sexual assault cases they investigate, Mejia said.

"Alcohol often leads to the victimization of students," Mejia said. "We have a zero-tolerance policy and we aggressively deal with alcohol violations. People should realize that alcohol use sometimes has devastating effects."