Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Student acquitted of rape, D.A. apparently brought charges because the woman was "very adamant" about it

It didn't take the jury long to acquit a former college student of rape in a classic "he said-she said" incident where he was so drunk he couldn't remember what happened. Of course, his name is splashed all over the newspaper and he may be forever branded a potential rapist while the putative rape victim is shrouded in anonymity for life.

According to defense counsel, the young woman repeatedly changed her story. If so -- exactly why were these charges brought to trial? Why was a young man subjected to two years of hell when, presumably, the D.A. should have known early on that her story was a moving target?

Because she was "very adamant" about it, the D.A. said.

So, men and boys falsely accused of rape are at risk of being deprived of their liberty for years, and then having to register as a sex offender for life, depending on how adamant the woman is? Does this mean -- and I am serious about this -- that college guys should avoid dating acting students?

The best liars, the most dangerous liars, are adamant. How dare the D.A. subject this young man to a trial if her story was full of holes, "adamant" or no.


Former Dominican student acquitted of rape

Gary Klien

A former student at Dominican University in San Rafael was acquitted of raping another student during an alcohol-fueled campus incident in 2006.

After a trial that lasted more than a month, a jury took just one afternoon to find Jimmy Tran not guilty of rape, false imprisonment, attempted assault to commit rape and related charges.

Tran, who turns 21 next week, could have faced more than nine years in prison if convicted, and he would have had to register as a sex offender for life. His lawyer, Gerald Schwartzbach of Mill Valley, acknowledged that Tran was "staggeringly drunk" during the episode, but that whatever happened was consensual and that the alleged victim repeatedly lied or changed her story.

"We're obviously delighted with the outcome, and it was the outcome that I anticipated based on the evidence at the trial," said Schwartzbach, perhaps best known for winning an acquittal for "Baretta" star Robert Blake in the shooting death of his wife. "It was essentially a she-said, he-didn't-remember case."

The incident occurred late Aug. 31, 2006, or early the next morning, in a campus dormitory, authorities said. Both Tran, a native of Orange County, and the alleged victim, who is from Stanislaus County, were in the early days of their freshman year.

The woman told San Rafael police and county prosecutors that Tran forced her into his dorm room, locked the door behind him, threw her on the bed and raped her.

"The victim was very adamant that this was in fact a rape, that she had not consented," said District Attorney Ed Berberian. "We thought it should go before a jury."

But Schwartzbach questioned the woman's credibility, saying she repeatedly lied about what happened and altered her story about why she went to Tran's room.

"She was impeached time after time after time," he said. "She just repeatedly lied under oath."
Schwartzbach said Tran blacked out and couldn't remember what happened. His blood-alcohol content was estimated at .30 percent during the incident, or nearly four times the legal limit for driving, according to Schwartzbach.

"He's been in AA for two years now," he said. "He'll be going back to school and trying to put his life back together. This is a really good kid who obviously had a substance abuse problem."

The jury went into deliberations at 11:30 a.m. Monday and returned with the unanimous verdict late Monday afternoon.

Tran is no longer a student at Dominican, said college spokeswoman Sarah Gardner. He stopped attending class about 10 days into the fall 2006 semester and never returned, Gardner said.