Crime & Courts

Citing lack of evidence, prosecutors toss Davidson College sexual assault case

Davidson students attend a silent vigil in February to protest an alleged campus sexual assault. This week, a Mecklenburg prosecutor dropped a separate sexual battery case involving Davidson students, saying that there was inadequate evidence to support the accusers allegations.
Davidson students attend a silent vigil in February to protest an alleged campus sexual assault. This week, a Mecklenburg prosecutor dropped a separate sexual battery case involving Davidson students, saying that there was inadequate evidence to support the accusers allegations. Olivia Daniels

Prosecutors have dismissed sexual battery charges against a Davidson College student, citing a lack of evidence supporting the allegations of his campus accuser.

Assistant Mecklenburg District Attorney Walton Walker formally threw out the misdemeanor case against Danny Jones on Wednesday. Jones, of Garden City, N.Y., was arrested by Davidson town police last year, one of two sexual battery cases that reignited an emotional debate over the safety of women at one of the country’s most prestigious small schools.

In filing for dismissal, Walker said he lacks sufficient evidence to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a crime occurred. He said Jones and his accuser, a female Davidson student, had “a consensual intimate encounter recently before” she willingly came to Jones’ dorm room last September. The prosecutor said there was insufficient evidence that Jones had used force in the ensuing sexual activity.

Walker said the two students were the only witnesses to the incident.

Jones’ attorney, Melissa Owen of Charlotte, said her client “is grateful for the discretion used by the district attorney in dismissing the case.” She said Jones had been arrested for touching the female student’s breasts after she had gotten into his bed.

“These two students had had an intimate relations before ... she had voluntarily come to his dorm room at 2 in the morning. Those factors justify this decision,” Owen said Thursday.

She said the incident has taken a toll.

“The pain from these allegations has been extremely real to my client and his family,” Owen said. “This is a kid who has worked maintenance jobs for the last three summers to help afford the tuition of a prestigious school. This has been devastating for him.”

Jones’ accuser said she did not want to comment Thursday. The Observer does not identify alleged sexual assault victims.

Meanwhile, the sexual battery case against Davidson student George Coleman is scheduled for trial later this month. Coleman was charged by Davidson town police after a female student went off campus to file a complaint. Coleman, a former varsity baseball player, was arrested in early February in connection with an on-campus incident from the month before.

His attorney, Chris Fialko of Charlotte, did not comment Wednesday. He has said in the past that his client is innocent of all charges. In February he criticized campus demonstrations following Coleman’s arrest that he said ignored “my client’s bedrock right of being presumed innocent.”

In a February statement, college officials said that they “were grateful that these courageous young women reported these events, and we trust that the town of Davidson police will investigate fully.”

On Tuesday, college spokesman Mark Johnson said the school could not comment on individual cases involving Davidson students.

Sexual assaults remain an explosive issue on many campuses, with frequently quoted statistics that up to 20 percent of female students will be victimized. Critics, including defense attorneys who represent male students accused of assault, say the statistics are exaggerated, and that cases are frequently based on false or trumped-up allegations.

At UNC Charlotte, rape charges were dropped against a male student after a prosecutor said the statements of his accuser did not provide sufficient proof. The accuser, a female student, acknowledged that she had been heavily drinking at the time of the incident and did not remember several pertinent details.

In another case, UNCC quarterback Kevin Olsen was indicted by a grand jury this week on three counts of second-degree rape along with other offenses, stemming from an incident involving a former female student of the school.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

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