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No charges filed in alleged Uptown rape
A grand jury found probable cause did not exist to charge any party from the alleged rape on Court Street during Homecoming Weekend, Athens County
Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said during a press conference Monday.
Information from an Athens Police Department investigation indicates the man and woman involved, both 20-year-old Ohio University students, drank at an Uptown bar before the incident, Blackburn said.
Blackburn added the main issue the grand jury faced was whether the man knew she had no ability to consent. Lab results show the woman’s system was clean of any date rape drug.
“A reasonable person would think that she was not intoxicated beyond the ability to consent,” Blackburn said.
According to one statute in the Ohio Revised Code regarding rape, the crime occurs when the other person’s ability to resist or consent is substantially impaired — possibly because of alcohol.
“Being able to walk down the hallway carrying her own burrito and into the apartment, she was able and not being escorted,” Blackburn said. “It didn’t appear to us or the grand jury that she was not able to give consent.”
Blackburn, in one of the most detailed accounts of the incident by a public official, was seemingly the first to acknowledge the man involved was an OU student.
During the press conference, he described the event as follows:
The couple left after the bar closed Oct. 12 and began kissing while moving south on Court Street.
At approximately 3 a.m., the two stopped in front of Chase Bank, 2 S. Court St., where the male performed oral sex on the female and, in video footage of the event, digitally penetrated her.
The female was responsive, Blackburn said.
During the act, the man asked the woman if he should stop because a crowd was building behind them. She answered no.
The names of the individuals were not released Monday.
After leaving the bank, the two can be seen on video voluntarily entering the man’s Court Street apartment. They arrived just after 3:30 a.m. and left at 6:30 a.m.
The man then walked the woman home and provided her with his cell phone number.
Neither was aware their actions were videotaped until footage circulated on social media. No indictments were made for anyone who took a video.
Blackburn also confirmed an alleged assault on the man involved.
“The assault on him came from a citizen who appeared to be disgusted by that type of activity taking place in public, not because he was concerned about the safety of the female,” Blackburn said.
It was not immediately clear whether the assault would be further investigated or if the two could face misdemeanor charges in municipal court for public indecency or underage drinking.
Blackburn recommended APD not file public indecency charges because “the public embarrassment of what has gone on is more than a misdemeanor charge could be.”
APD officials could not be reached for comment as of press time.
In addition, the students might face punishment from OU.
“We have an internal process that we’re following and this kind of information — well much of this — may make it into our investigation,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Ryan Lombardi.
He added he was already aware the man accused was an OU student.
Citing the federal government’s Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, Lombardi said OU would not release the students' names.
He wouldn’t confirm if the university would look into punishment for underage drinking but said he’s concerned the students were drinking Uptown.