Lawyer seeks special prosecutor

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- An attorney for a woman who accused three Arkansas players of rape filed papers Tuesday asking a court to appoint a special prosecutor after local authorities chose not to file charges.

Attorney John D. Bass filed his request in Washington County Circuit Court on behalf of the accuser's father, claiming the local prosecutor's office did not conduct an independent investigation after university police looked into the matter.

Bass claims the school "has enormous incentive to see that this matter is investigated in a manner favorable to UA" -- in part because basketball players were accused. Bass quoted a university police officer as saying, during a videotaped interview: "I don't do anything to an athlete that I'm not comfortable with the fact that this is going to become national news."

"A system that allows a giant governmental entity to investigate itself is fundamentally flawed," Bass wrote. "And a government agency that unquestioningly accepts the results of such an investigation and refuses to act in the face of clear evidence is negligent in its duty."

A university freshman named three basketball players in the rape complaint, saying one forced her to commit a sex act and another began a sex act with her a short time later in a locked bedroom at a fraternity house in late August.

Prosecutor John Threet decided against filing charges, saying last month that the investigation didn't show that the woman was unaware a sex act occurred or that she was unable to say no. Threet said Tuesday he has no objection to a special prosecutor, but his view of the case has not changed.

"At some point, we won't use our office's authority to continue treating somebody as the suspect of a crime when the evidence suggests that they are not," Threet said.

The Arkansas athletic department declined comment Tuesday. Basketball coach John Pelphrey has previously said he'll suspend at least one player two to three games following the rape investigation.

Bass said evidence might show players weren't truthful with police about some details of their sexual encounter with the accuser. Threet said that, even if that's true, it doesn't alter his outlook on whether a rape occurred.

"Our issue was never whether sexual activity occurred. That was never a hurdle for us," Threet said. "The decision was made based on insufficient evidence to show force, or that she was unaware that a sex act was taking place or she couldn't communicate her consent."

Bass also noted that Threet is the son-in-law of former Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles and the brother-in-law of an athletic department spokesman. Threet said those relatives haven't suggested how he should handle cases.

"Whether it was the best investigation, the worst investigation or somewhere in between, the facts are insufficient to file a charge of rape," Threet said. "Since it's been public for two months, nothing has changed."