SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has decided not to file charges against three former San Diego State University football players accused of rape.
In a statement, the DA’s office said they are done with their review of an alleged sexual assault that took place at a home near SDSU. The DA said prosecutors have determined the evidence does not support filing criminal charges, and that they do not see a path to a potential criminal conviction.
After a months-long investigation, on Wednesday the San Diego District Attorney’s Office declined to criminal charge three former Aztec football players with rape. In a statement, the DA’s office said they concluded after analyzing more than 35 taped witness interviews, DNA results, cell phone and video evidence, and other evidence.
In the statement, the DA said for cases like this, they must consider several aspects such as consistency in statements, and does the video evidence support or contradict plus medical expertise.
San Diego police said, the then 17-year-old female, first reported the alleged rape last October after she said a group of San Diego State football players raped her at an off-campus party.
The DA’s office said they spoke with the woman and offered her support. The woman, now 18 years old, previously spoke with FOX 5 anonymously. She said a man gave her a drink, and took her to a bedroom, where a group of SDSU football players raped her, while in and out of consciousness.
A civil lawsuit filed by the woman’s attorney Dan Gilleon, names former Buffalo Bills Matt Araiza, former Aztec football players Zavier Leonard, and Nowlin Ewaliko as the men who sexually assaulted her.
Gilleon released a statement after the DA’s decision:
“I am never surprised when a prosecutor does not file sexual assault charges when the victim was intoxicated. It is a very rare case where the criminal justice system achieves anything satisfactory for the victim of a sexual assault. Prosecutors cannot file charges unless they think they can get a unanimous decision from all jurors who cannot vote to convict unless they are convinced beyond any reasonable doubt. The lawsuit we filed is not in the criminal justice system. It is a different ball game here. The victim is represented, and the focus is on the harm defendants caused her. It is only in the civil system that a victim of sexual assault can achieve justice, and we plan to do just that.
The police and DA will likely resist producing all of the evidence, but the videos and statements they selectively revealed were graphic, and they supported the allegations in our lawsuit. The defendants will have no sympathizers when that evidence comes out.
I can say that the DA did not reveal all of the evidence, but the evidence they did show us was graphic and supported the allegations in our lawsuit. The defendants will have no sympathizers once the evidence comes out,” Dan Gilleon said in a statement.
Meanwhile, San Diego State’s athletic department declined to comment due to their own investigation.
In an email sent to students shortly, after the DA announced its decision, the university wrote:
|Dear students, faculty and staff, |
Today, the District Attorney announced that it has completed its review of the San Diego Police Department’s investigation of the College Area sexual assault reported in October 2021 and that no charges will be filed. The District Attorney’s statement explains its thorough process and its decision. I am writing to share my thoughts as well as provide information about our ongoing efforts at SDSU.
Outcome of SDPD Investigation
The District Attorney’s decision came following its review of SDPD’s investigation of the reported assault. While we cannot and do not speak for the District Attorney, it is important that our campus understand that this means that the District Attorney will not pursue or prosecute the case.
And it remains true that, given the severity of the allegations, it was imperative to have allowed police investigators and prosecutors to review the case without interference.
I understand that this will be a difficult time for members of our collective community, but you should know that the District Attorney’s decision has no bearing on our ongoing student conduct investigation at SDSU, which continues.
SDSU’s Investigation Remains Active
SDSU’s investigation remains active. Since SDPD confirmed in July that we could proceed with our student conduct investigation without compromising its criminal investigation, we have interviewed individuals from across our community and reviewed a range of evidence. We continue to encourage anyone with direct knowledge of the incident to report information via our online tools.
As I shared in my last message, we have already taken actions as part of this process, and we will continue to identify any additional actions we can take as an institution in the interest of individual and community safety. As is true of any investigation, certain information will not be shared due to privacy laws that restrict what information a university can legally share.
Our Work Continues
At SDSU, I appreciate being part of a community of people – staff, student leaders, faculty, parents and families – who have developed or supported programs, training sessions, events, research initiatives and policies in support of a safer environment for all. My work and our work is not done and will continue.
I also urge you: Should any member of our community need help, and at any time, please continue to seek support through our university offices.
Adela de la Torre, Ph.D.
San Diego State University President
FOX 5 spoke with an SDSU film major, David Merrill, about the DA’s choice and what he thinks the university can do.
“I’m actually very surprised they are not, I just don’t understand how we can represent that,” Merrill said. “And it’s just something that needs to be addressed and we need to take action on that as a school. Has the school done anything, or heard anything? Training for sexual assault? We do the little training online, as a freshman, Haven’t done it since I transferred here. I think it’s hard because it comes from morals, you can’t train morals. I think it’s just having to train those who are affected by that, which is really sad.”
In the DA’s statement, they said the San Diego Police are still investigating alleged possession and unlawful pornography for 19 year-old Nowlin Ewaliko. Officials said this investigation is not connected to the alleged sexual assault.
“I am supportive of the decision of the District Attorney to not file charges in this matter. This was clearly a decision made after an exhaustive review of all available evidence by an experienced prosecution team acting according to ethical duties,” Marc Carlos, attorney for Nowlin Ewaliko, said when asked about the DA deciding not to file criminal rape charges.