Using Evidence From Multiple Sexual Assault Cases is Unlawful, Police Say
In July, the Salt Lake Tribune released an article about four Utah State University women who said they were raped by the same man, but Logan police and the university dropped the cases and the suspect was never prosecuted.
Logan City Police say there wasn’t enough evidence in each of the four separate cases to convict the man accused of rape.
“Each case has to stand on its own merit,” said Curtis Hooley, captain of the Logan City Police Department. “You can’t use a piece of this case and a piece of that case to combine to make a charge. I think one of the misconceptions is that we have three women who reported that they were sexually assaulted by one male individual in our jurisdiction, but we can’t take pieces of each case to make a case for him.”
He says Cache County Attorney Barbara Lachmar declined to file charges because there was no probable cause, or no proof that the man committed any of the crimes.
“Rape is a very, very serious thing,” Hooley said. “I mean, if a person is convicted of rape, they go to prison for many years. Rightfully so.”
That being said, authorities have to be certain to get a sufficient amount of evidence before they can press charges.
“Do we have enough information to say that this person committed the crime of rape upon this person?” Hooley said. “Trying to meet that burden of proof is sometimes difficult with sexual assault.”
Hooley didn’t give the specifics about when or how the women in this case reported, but says those who are sexually assaulted can make a stronger case against their perpetrator if they go to the police as soon as possible to show physical, emotional or other types of evidence.
He said some victims choose not to go to the police right away because they’re afraid of getting in trouble for something they’ve done. In a case that involves the serious crime of rape, Hooley said they won't get in trouble, and hopes victims will step forward quickly so police have sufficient evidence.
“Sometimes people underage are scared to admit that they’ve been drinking,” Hooley said. “Well, when we’re looking at a sexual assault, we don’t care in regards to that person violated the law for drinking. That’s not something that’s going to be focused on as far as an investigation to get them into trouble.”