MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At a press conference Friday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said there will be no charges against two University of Minnesota wrestlers. Freeman claimed inadequate evidence to charge the athletes, following an extensive investigation.
— John Lauritsen (@JDLauritsen) December 20, 2019
Despite no charges, Freeman on Friday said the attorney’s office appreciates the woman’s bravery in reporting the incident to police.
“The police department and this office were able to help her obtain the resources to deal with the trauma from that evening,” Freeman said.
In June, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced that no charges would be filed against the two wrestlers, but that the investigation was continuing.
Freeman says sexual assault cases like this, and most criminal cases, must meet the standards of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. He called this a complex case which involved reviewing forensic evidence, talking with witnesses, the female accuser and the accused.
“There are often conflicting versions of what happened, and this case is no exception,” Freeman said. “Simply, there is inadequate evidence to fairly charge and prosecute this case.”
Given Minnesota’s current laws regarding intoxication and the victim’s ability to give consent, Freeman says his office was working under some significant constraints. Freeman says he, along with Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and others, have been pushing the Minnesota legislature to adopt a law similar to the Wisconsin intoxication law. He put out a plea to Minnesota lawmakers at Friday’s press conference to change the law so there is broader discretion to charge in cases such as this.
The alleged assault occurred early morning of Saturday, June 15 in Minneapolis. Just before 9:30 p.m., Minneapolis police took one of the men into custody. The other was arrested just before midnight and suspended from team activities. They were released without being charged; now the case has been dropped.
“My client’s family is really enthusiastic. When they received the news, it is encouraging as an attorney when you have the mother in the background with tears of joy,” said Lee Hutton, an attorney for one of the wrestlers.
After the county attorney’s announcement, the U of M lifted the suspension on both wrestlers – allowing them to return to the team. Hutton said his client isn’t just looking forward to competing for the University, but he also has Olympic aspirations.
Because the wrestlers were not charged with a crime, WCCO has chosen not to name them.