Jones acquitted, found guilty of lesser charge

The former football player was found not guilty of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Jurors acquitted former Gophers football player Dominic Jones of third-degree criminal sexual conduct Friday afternoon.

However, Jones was found guilty on a lesser charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The verdict came after nearly two full days of deliberations.

As the courtroom emptied, Jones smiled with attorney Earl Gray’s arm around him. After Jones left the courtroom, he embraced his family and friends.

With the fourth-degree conviction, Jones faces a maximum of one year in prison or a 24-month stayed sentence, which he wouldn’t serve without breaking his probation terms.

Gray said if sentenced to one year, Jones would likely only serve eight months and be afforded work and school release.

Following the initial verdict, jurors decided on two aggravating factors, which could lead to harsher sentencing. They found Jones’ conduct was “demeaning and humiliating” but not cruel.

Despite the possible jail time, Gray called the decision a positive one for his client.

“It was a great victory,” Gray said. “I’m very happy with the verdict.”

However, Gray wasn’t completely satisfied with the partial acquittal. He said he plans to appeal the decision and hopefully retry the case.

Many of the things Hennepin County Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum kept out of the trial, such as the victim’s sexual history, would be allowed on appeal, Gray said, and that would only make his case stronger.

“We were unable, because of the court’s rulings, to give the jury a full picture of what really happened that night,” he said. “(The jurors) were hamstrung because they didn’t get the full picture.”

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Martha Holton Dimick called the decision a victory for the state.

“A win for the defendant would have been an acquittal on both of the two counts,” she said. “That didn’t happen.”

The verdict will also send a message to athletes everywhere, Holton Dimick said, that they’re not above the law.

Jones and his family said the decision was a relief, and said they hope to move on with their lives.

“I feel like the storm is almost over now,” Jones said. “Hopefully this won’t be the last impression people have of me.”

While he said he’d like to get back to playing football, Jones said his main concern is his education.

His father, Keith Jones, said the trial was a difficult time for his family.

“As a family, we have been through a rollercoaster ride,” he said. “One day you’re up, one day you’re down, but here we are.”

Keith Jones said throughout the trial, he was proud of his son.

“He stood up to the fire. He didn’t run, he didn’t hide, he didn’t leave Minnesota, he stayed right here,” he said. “I commend him as my son.”

Jones’ mother, DaMona Lipsey, wore a shirt which read “Victory is mine” on the front. While she called the verdict a partial victory, she said she hopes an appeal will fully exonerate her son.

“It’s my hope my son can go on with his life,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming, but thank God we made it through.”

Dominic Jones will be sentenced May 29.

Jake Grovum and Emma Carew are senior staff reporters.