Former Gopher Charged with Sexual Conduct
Former University of Minnesota football player Dominic Jones was convicted of unwanted sexual conduct, but cleared of rape charges on Friday.
Jones, who is still attending the university, yet no longer plays football for the Gophers, was charged and convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, which involves performing a sex act on a victim without her consent, reported the Pioneer Press. The jury found Jones not guilty of third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges or rape, which involves penetration.
During the weeklong trial, jurors saw cell-phone video that appeared to show Jones masturbating over the woman. The 30-second video ended with Jones smiling at the camera and a shot showing a white substance on the unresponsive woman's face.
Jones, 21, denied penetrating the woman. He testified in his own defense that the woman had consented to being masturbated on. Prosecutors said the woman had passed out after heavy drinking and could not give her consent.
Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is a felony, but defense attorney Earl Gray said the state's sentencing guidelines call for a 24-month suspended sentence. Gray said that Jones could be sent to prison for a year, but would likely get work release and be out sooner, reported the Star Tribune.
He would have to register as a sex offender.
Gray intends to appeal the verdict and seek a second trial. He said the evidence excluded at trial goes to the heart of the charge with which Jones was convicted.
The defense was not allowed to call a sexual behavior expert or present evidence of the woman having sex with other men that night. Also the handling of evidence was called into question, with a lot of the evidence going into the same bag.
The testimonies included the victim who said that she got into a vodka shot-drinking contest with former Gopher player, Robert McField. She said she remembered nothing of the evening beyond falling asleep on the couch and waking the next morning with a white substance on her face. She washed it off, went home and to work.
McField, who is now serving 12 years in a Missouri prison for armed robbery, testified he saw what he thought was Jones having sexual intercourse with the woman, but that he did not actually see penetration, reported the Pioneer Press.
Jurors began deliberations late Wednesday and by mid-afternoon Thursday had acquitted Jones of the more serious charge, according to their verdict form, reported the Star Tribune. They reached a verdict of guilty at midday Friday on the lesser charge. The jury quickly decided the act Jones performed was "humiliating and demeaning" to the woman, but not "cruel."
"I feel like the storm is almost over now. ... Hopefully this won't be the lasting impression that people have of me," Jones said afterward, reported the Pioneer Press.
Gray said Jones "absolutely" plans to appeal because key evidence was kept out the trial.
"The next time we try it, we will be able to give the jury a full picture of what happened that night," Gray said, reported the Star Tribune.