De Anza students not liable in rape case

April 7, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A case in which there are no winners has some closure after a jury brought back its decisions in a civil trial involving alleged gang rape. After three and a half days of deliberations, a jury in the De Anza rape trial did not find the defendants liable and did not award any damages to the plaintiff.

The young woman at the center of the case was in tears as she left the court. She did not want to talk to the media and her attorneys only said they are proud of her. The two primary defendants also declined to talk publicly, but after four years, the families of the men accused of rape had plenty to say, expressing both relief with the verdicts and anger at the way they say the case has been portrayed in the media.

"These boys have been wrongly accused. The truth prevailed in the courthouse. By her actions she brought this on herself and then cried wolf," Cheryl, one of the mothers who declined to give her last name, said.

The plaintiff, known as Jane Doe, was 17 when she attended a party at a house near downtown San Jose. Her attorneys argued that she was drunk (up to three times the legal limit) and near comatose when she was gang raped in a small bedroom on a mattress beside her own vomit. Defense attorneys countered that the young woman was emotionally troubled, brought beer to the party, performed a public lap dance and then invited the men to have sex with her.

There was public outcry when then District Attorney Dolores Carr did not prosecute the case and the state attorney general at the time, Jerry Brown, also declined to prosecute. Jane Doe pursued her case in civil court where the burden of proof is not as high.

The jury foreperson Percenel Jones said on a scale of one to 10, in terms of difficulty, this case was a 15.

"We all had our emotions on certain parts and pieces that we had to make decisions on, but bottom line, ultimately it was the law we followed and that helped us to render our final decision," she said.

Not all of the jury votes were unanimous and two of the jurors openly cried in court, both of them reaching out to hug the plaintiff after court was no longer in session.

"These guys should be held accountable. These guys were animals. They took advantage of a very young, drunk girl and in that case, no, justice wasn't served," juror No. 10 Marc Ancheta said.

On each count against the defendants though, at least nine of the jurors were in agreement and in the most serious charges of rape, every juror found the defendants not liable. Jane Doe had sought $7.5 million in damages; the jury did not award her any money.

"There was a lot of sympathy, so we did not know if we would get one [verdict] based on sympathy or pure justice, which is what we got," defense attorney Jeff Nevin said.

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