King County Prosecutors announced this afternoon that no charges will be filed against a University of Washington basketball player who was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl last month.
After completing a thorough investigation into an allegation that a University of Washington Husky basketball player sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl, the Seattle Police Department referred the matter to the King County Prosecutor's Office after concluding that there was insufficient evidence to support criminal charges. The King County Prosecutor's Office has conducted its own review and has reached the same conclusion.
The Prosecutor's Office does not typically name the parties involved in a case that is declined for filing.
The decision to decline to file felony charges is based on the review of witness statements taken by Seattle Police, including statements from a 16-year old friend of the complaining witness, and two other men who were present in the basketball player's apartment. Witnesses describe how the young women contacted the basketball player through Facebook, then later in person. The basketball player met the young women downtown, and then allegedly purchased liquor for them on the way to his apartment. After the young women consumed the liquor, witnesses describe consensual sexual contact.
The young woman involved is 16-years-old and, under Washington State law, is legally capable of consenting to have sexual contact. A charge of Rape in the Third Degree requires proof that a victim clearly expresses a lack of consent by words or conduct. Evidence does not exist in this case to support a charge of Rape in the Third Degree. Therefore, no criminal charges will be filed.
The case has been referred to the Seattle City Attorney's Office for consideration of the filing of misdemeanor charges of furnishing alcohol to a minor.
The statement raises several interesting questions about the night of the alleged assault, including the new details that more than one woman may have been involved (note prosecutors' use of the word "women," plural), and that there are witnesses who can "describe consensual sexual contact."
It's also worth noting that the player in question isn't totally in the clear: As the prosecutors point out, he could still be charged with a misdemeanor for plying his date with booze.
Seattle Weekly, like the prosecutors' office, is still withholding the player's name. However, as we pointed out earlier this week, his identity is sort of an open secret at this point, and now that he has been cleared of any legal wrongdoing (whether it's acceptable for a college student to sleep with a 16-year-old under any circumstances is another issue entirely) perhaps he'll be willing to come forward and tell his side of the story.
UPDATE 2:53 p.m.: UW just issued their official statement on the prosecutor's statement, and it is, officially, a non-statement: "Since the case is still working its way through the local judicial system, the university will not be commenting on the matter."