Jones’ defense granted access to cell phone video

Earl Gray, Dominic Jones’ lawyer, requested access to the video back in mid-July.

Justin Horwath

Hennepin County Judge Marilyn Rosenbaum granted the defense in the Dominic Jones case access to a cell phone video that led to the former Gopher football player’s arrest, despite a sworn statement from a sexual assault advocate raising concerns for the alleged victim’s safety and privacy.

With the video now in his hands, Jones’ attorney Earl Gray can look for more avenues to assist in the defense. Gray said after Jones posted bail July 16 that his client will plead not guilty to the felony third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges filed against him.

Gray requested disclosure of evidence from the case shortly after Hennepin County officials charged Jones several times since mid-July, court documents show.

In a court affidavit, Linda Hendlin, a legal advocate for victims of sexual assault for Hennepin County cases, stated that Jones’ friends and members of the media have contacted the alleged victim.

Jones posted $25,000 bail after his arrest, and the terms of his release state he must not contact the alleged victim, even indirectly. He must also stay in contact with a probation officer.

Court files show no evidence Jones has tried to contact the alleged victim.

The video surfaced after forensic experts reconstructed it during the nearly four-month investigation of the April incident. The investigation resulted in the arrest and release of three former Gopher football players and the charges against Jones.

A criminal complaint alleges the video shows Jones performing a sex act on an “unresponsive” victim, hours after former University student and football player Robert McField – who is now serving time for two felony robbery convictions in St. Louis, Mo. – challenged the alleged victim to a drinking contest inside his University Village apartment.

She drank eight shots of vodka and, according to a doctor’s analysis based on the alleged victim’s weight and the amount of alcohol she consumed, her estimated blood alcohol content was 0.30 percent at the time of the alleged incident, according to the complaint.

Hendlin said the alleged victim expressed concerns with regard to her safety, security and privacy and, since the incident, she has changed her telephone number and address.

Gray’s handling of the video, however, is limited by a court protective order issued Aug. 27.

The order restricts the viewing of the video to the defense, places guidelines on how the defense handles the video and states Gray must return it to the county attorney’s office for destruction when the trial concludes.

The guidelines also state Gray must not duplicate any portion of the video and that he must keep it locked when not in use.

Sexual history of the alleged victim

Assistant Hennepin County attorneys Martha Holton Dimick and Marlene Senechal submitted a motion Aug. 24 seeking to deny the defense disclosure of case information.

The defense sought information related to incidents in which the alleged victim had sex with three other former football players in the apartment before the incident with Jones occurred.

Rape shield laws in Minnesota state evidence of previous sexual conduct of an alleged victim must not be brought to court unless a judge decides that the relevance of the information outweighs its “inflammatory” nature.

Alex Daniels, Keith Massey and E.J. Jones, the three former Gopher football players who athletics department officials dismissed after Dominic Jones was charged in the case, took turns having sex with the alleged victim the night of the incident, according to the criminal complaint.

Gray must prove the three had sex with the alleged victim for the evidence to be admissible, according to Minnesota law.

Gray is one of Minnesota’s most prominent criminal defense attorneys. He helped clear former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper of misdemeanor lewd conduct charges in the wake of a sex scandal aboard a yacht on Lake Minnetonka in 2005.

Jones, a former Gopher football defensive back and premier Big Ten kick returner, could face a prison term of 41 to 58 months, which is the sentencing range for third-degree criminal sexual conduct against “physically helpless” victims if the defendant has no prior convictions, according to Minnesota sentencing guidelines.

Neither Gray nor the prosecuting attorneys returned requests for comment.