Prosecution ups charges

Justin Horwath

After months of sparring over motions and judicial assignments, the prosecution in the Dominic Jones rape case threw a punch at the defense last Wednesday after filing a notice seeking a harsher charges for Jones, who currently has third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges looming over him.

The state argued that Jones “committed multiple forms of penetration,” according to court files, signed by the prosecuting attorneys in the case, Martha Holton Dimick and Marlene Senechal.

“The defendant’s behavior was particularly demeaning and humiliating, and the victim was treated with particular cruelty,” the notice to the court states.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he wasn’t sure about the parameters of the sentence the state is seeking, but said such motions only occur in 10 to 15 percent of Hennepin County cases.

“This is committing sexual assault on a woman when she’s passed out,” he said. “That’s pretty offensive, needless to say.”

Officials originally charged the former defensive back with third-degree criminal sexual conduct after police arrested him June 16 in connection with an incident involving three other former Gopher football players. The incident occurred in University Village on an early April morning.

A criminal complaint alleged that in former Gopher football defensive lineman Robert McField’s University Village apartment, Jones performed a sex act on an “unresponsive victim.” Alex Daniels, whom athletics department officials dismissed along with two other former football players in the wake of Jones’ arrest, recorded the act on his cell phone then deleted it, according to the complaint.

University officials expelled Robert McField after a St. Louis, Mo., court convicted him on two counts of armed robbery. He is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence.

Forensic experts reconstructed the video file, leading to Jones’ June 16 arrest.

McField challenged the alleged victim to a drinking contest, in which she drank eight shots of vodka, according to the complaint. During the time of the incident with Jones, the alleged victim had an estimated blood alcohol content of 0.30 percent, based on a doctor’s analysis of her weight and how much she drank, the complaint states.

Stephen Smith, the doctor who the complaint calls an expert on drug- and alcohol-facilitated sexual assault, stated the clinical effects on a person with 0.30 percent blood alcohol content would put them in a “stupor,” in which the person experiences general inertia, an inability to stand or walk and impaired consciousness.

The prison term for third-degree criminal sexual conduct acts on “physically helpless” victims is 41 to 58 months if the defendant has no prior convictions, according to Minnesota sentencing guidelines.

In seeking to break from these sentencing guidelines, the prosecution is allowed to present factors to a jury that would permit them to seek the aggravated sentence, according to Minnesota statute section 244.10.

The prosecution, however, is only allowed to use evidence which would be admissible as part of the trial on the elements of the offense or would not result in “unfair prejudice” to the defendant, the statute states.

Freeman said in many cases the defense waives the right to a jury and lets a judge decide on the prosecution’s request for an upward sentence. As of press time Tuesday, Jones’ attorney Earl Gray had not filed a notice of his intent in regards to the state’s request, Freeman said.

Case information and sexual history of the alleged victim

The prosecution filed a motion Aug. 24 to protect the release of case information, citing the testimony of Linda Hendlin, a legal advocate for victims of sexual assault for Hennepin County cases.

Jones’ friends and members of the media have contacted the alleged victim, Hendlin said in a sworn statement.

Despite Hendlin’s testimony, Hennepin County Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum ruled in an Aug. 30 hearing that prosecutors must turn over information containing the alleged victim’s home, employment and school addresses. Rosenbaum also ordered the state to turn over the alleged victim’s personal telephone numbers to Gray.

According to the protective order, the information might not be disclosed to Jones or the public until ordered by the court.

The state was also ordered to disclose information Aug. 30 in regards to an incident in which former Gopher football players Alex Daniels, Keith Massey and E.J. Jones had sex with the alleged victim before Jones allegedly raped her.

Minnesota rape shield laws state that evidence of an alleged victim’s sexual history cannot be brought to court unless a judge rules its relevance to the case outweighs its “inflammatory” nature.

Gray is also barred from duplicating any documents in relation to that incident.

Jones’ pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Sept. 18. He posted $25,000 bail shortly after his arrest. After Jones posted bail, Gray said his client will not plead guilty to the charges.

Court files show Jones has waived appearances at some of the motion hearings since his arrest, however, Gray said at an Aug. 30 hearing his client will be present “for the rest of the motions.”

Jones’ jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 18 at 9 a.m., pending further motions for continuance, according to court files.

Gray did not immediately return request for comment.