No sex assault charges for 2 Minnesota wrestlers
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two University of Minnesota wrestlers who were arrested on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct in June will not face criminal charges due to “inadequate evidence,” a prosecutor announced Friday.
Gable Steveson and Dylan Martinez were arrested after a female reported she had been raped on June 15 and went to a hospital for treatment.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman told reporters Friday that all criminal cases, including sexual assault crimes, must meet the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
“There are often conflicting versions of what happened and this case is no exception,” he said. “In the interest of justice, there is inadequate evidence to fairly charge and prosecute this case.”
He provided few details, saying his office doesn’t believe in re-victimizing the victim and that, “We appreciate her bravery in reporting this incident to police.”
Freeman also hinted that alcohol may have been involved, saying that under Minnesota’s current laws on intoxication and a victim’s ability to give consent, his office was restricted in how it could bring charges in the case.
In neighboring Wisconsin, Freeman said, prosecutors have broad discretion to charge suspects who know or should know that someone’s alcohol consumption can impair his or her ability to give consent. He said he and others have pushed Minnesota lawmakers to pass similar legislation but have been unsuccessful so far.
Both wrestlers were suspended from team activity after the arrests. The University of Minnesota athletic department said Friday that it lifted the suspensions and that both athletes are “immediately eligible to rejoin team activities.”
Steveson’s attorney, Christa Groshek, told the Star Tribune had been allowed to practice but not compete. Groshek said Steveson continues to attend classes and that he was relieved by Freeman’s announcement.
“He’s just glad it’s over,” she said.
Steveson is one of the nation’s top heavyweights and an aspiring Olympian who placed third at this year’s NCAA championships.
Freeman didn’t say whether a law like Wisconsin’s would have led to charges in this case. Groshek said her office did its own investigation and doesn’t believe a change in legislation would have affected the outcome.
“He’s 100% innocent,” she told the newspaper.
Steveson was a four-time state champion at Apple Valley High School. He had a 35-2 record this season — his first competing for the Gophers. Martinez didn’t wrestle last season and was listed as a redshirt sophomore. He wrestled for Fresno (California) City College before enrolling at Minnesota. It was not clear if he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.